Photo essay: Illicit trade in jaguar parts in the Amazon

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RAI, Bolivia

Eduardo Franco Berton followed the illicit trade in jaguar parts, showing how sellers and smugglers in Bolivia, Peru and Brazil escape laws, controls and inspections. This illegal activity, when added to other pressures, threatens to silence the roar of the biggest feline in the Americas. Read Eduardo's full story and see his video clips here, or scroll down to see his photos. This story was produced with an Earth Journalism Network story grant, funded by Arcadia — a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing.

 

 

 Jaguars are active day and night, but show activity peaks at sunrise and sunset / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

A jaguar occupies territory covering 50 to 300 km2, fulfilling a vital role in regulating the populations of other mammal species, mainly herbivores / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

Belen market in Iquitos, Peru, where jaguar body parts are being sold and the authorities have difficulty carrying out their controls and enforcing the law / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

A black caiman in the streams around the San Carlos ranch, in Beni. Thanks to strict conservation policies and the prohibition of hunting, there is abundant fauna in this area / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

Hairo Toledo and Nicholas McPhee sailing toward San Carlos / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

The historical territory of the jaguar has been reduced by 46 percent due to the loss of habitat / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

Nearly 46,000 km2 of forest were lost in corridors of importance for jaguars between the years 2000 and 2012 / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

Sunset toward the San Carlos Wildlife Eco Reserve. It's a 10-hour boat ride to reach this cattle ranch where jaguars are safe from hunters and fang traffickers / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

The 'Rio Negro' corridor, where the San Carlos Wildlife Eco Reserve is located, harbors pink dolphins, black caimans and jaguars, among other animal species that inhabit this pristine ecosystem in the Bolivian Amazon / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

Gabriela, who sells jaguar skins and fangs in a community near Iquitos, explains to her buyers that they should hide these products to evade controls from the Peruvian authorities / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

Marco Antonio Greminger shows 25 jaguar skulls that were confiscated in a jewelry store in the municipality of Santa Ana, Beni in 2016 / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

Jaguar hunters have a new incentive: The demand for fangs and other parts / Credit: social networks

 

 

Fang traffickers are offering between $100-150 for each jaguar fang. This price rises up to $5,000 dollars in China / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

The handicraft shops in Iquitos sell fangs, skulls and jaguar claws. Several vendors hide the fangs from public view to avoid controls / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

The jaguar-human conflict is more frequent in areas where human hunting lowers the abundance of natural prey on which the jaguar feeds / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

A decorated jaguar skull offered in one of Iquitos' handicraft shops / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

Jaguar-ranching conflict is very frequent in the ranches of Bolivia and most of the time it is solved simply by killing the big cat / Credit: Eduardo Franco Berton

 

 

Over the past five years there have been 30 seizures of jaguar body parts in Brazil, which meant the death of at least 50 jaguars / Credit: Déo Martins - Infopebas

 

 

One of Brazil's most alarming cases was the confiscation of 19 dismembered jaguars found in a freezer in Curionópolis, Pará in 2016 / Credit: Déo Martins - Infopebas

 

 

Traditional Chinese medicine uses parts from big felines such as the Asian tiger, the African lion and leopard, and now also the jaguar / Credit: essentialparalavida.org

 

 

Research found evidence of an international jaguar body parts trade in Brazil / Credit: Déo Martins - Infopebas