December 17, 2022


A Cry, Red in Tooth and Claw

Jaguars have already lost about half of their natural habitat in the tropical rainforest of Central and Southern America. In addition, they are frequently shot by farmers, miners and loggers who want to protect their livestock or themselves. So it is not surprising that jaguars are classified as near threatened. This may soon worsen, however, because there is a new threat to the wild felines: the illegal trade in jaguars and their body parts, driven in particular by China.

By Stefanie Rach

“In the semi-darkness of the forest, I roam through my territory. I am the queen here. All the creatures duck further into the shadows as soon as they see me. They’d better. As a jaguar, I am one of the most skilled hunters. I even kill caimans, the predators of the river. With every step I take, I feel my supple muscles tense, ready to attack at any moment. My eyes perceive every movement, no matter how small, penetrating the world of shadows under the trees of the rainforest. My ears hear every rustle of the leaves, every breath of all the creatures around me, the pulse of the jungle. And my whiskers, yes, in my whiskers I can feel that there is something there… that there is something lurking in the deepest shadows of the forest. Someone is following me, someone is creeping up on me. Over there, in the darkness between those trees, there is someone who does not belong to the jungle. An intruder in my territory, in my kingdom, come to slay the queen! Who would dare to hunt me? As if he had a chance! And yet… Something is very wrong about this situation. I feel like I’m being watched. It makes me feel uneasy. The hunt begins! But this time I am the hunted!”

“I open the suitcase and push a few pieces of clothing aside to see what else is hiding in the depths of the bag. All customs officers have been urged to check passengers more closely for this flight connection. This is one of the findings of a several-year investigation into the criminal network trafficking jaguars. Their mode of operation has been uncovered, as well as transport methods and routes. I therefore specifically look for jaguar claws, teeth and other body parts as well as already processed products. In China, there is a very high demand for jaguar body parts to be used in traditional medicine. It is really terrible what is being done to these beautiful, proud animals: They are hunted and poached, sometimes shot by miners or farmers living on the edge of the jungle who want to protect themselves or get a quick buck. Unfortunately, it is well known throughout the country that you can make a lot of money from a dead jaguar if you sell it to the right broker. And there are many people in our country who lack money. Jaguar teeth and claws are sold for traditional local and Chinese medicine or as jewellery. The body of the jaguar is boiled down for several days and the concoction is then filled into small tins and tubes as a supposed healing paste. I see a suspicious-looking tube here in the travel bag. One cannot say with certainty that it is the jaguar paste. But it definitely needs to be investigated and the owner of the travel bag questioned!”

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