MI AMBIENTE sucks generally, but they are RIGHT on this point.

"JB"
The equivalent of the “EPA” in PANAMA is “Mi AMBIENTE”. Who in my opinion are a “rudderless” agency that is generally “LOST at SEA” in terms of what is BEST for PANAMA environmentally. That being said, the attempts to “domesticate” and make PETS of wildlife is wrong on many levels, and should be outlawed and stopped.
When a monkey receives a poor diet from a human, it causes bone malformations, growth problems, and other diseases, MiAmbiente warns.

April is Animal Abuse Awareness Month. Although the most popular cases of violence towards wildlife are domestic ones, wild animals are also hurt from the moment they are taken from their natural habitat. Situation that happens frequently in Panama.

According to the national director of the Environmental, Rural and Tourist Police, Elmer Caballero, hunting is common in the country, however, many do not do it for subsistence, but for sport or to sell the meat in restaurants. The people who dedicate themselves to this do not need money, since the shotguns they use to kill animals cost a lot. “Hunters have no scruples. “They are altering the balance of the species.”

The people who kill the animal for subsistence are very respectful, like the indigenous people, they kill, but out of necessity. “The use of natural resources must be sustainable.”

The animals that this direction rescues the most are iguanas, sea cucumbers, and birds, which Caballero stressed “are not meant to be locked up (…) They want to domesticate wild animals and remove them from their habitat, which is a way of abuse because they are not made for that life.” To date, 148 wild species have been treated.

On the other hand, Caballero indicated that although the management should not attend to cases of complaints related to domestic animals – since it is the responsibility of the Mayor’s Office of Panama – for the entity it is “pleasant to be able to attend to these types of cases.”

Dogs and cats are the most abused. They leave them tied, without water, without food; This is seen in all provinces. “We have had to see animals run over in the street in very ugly conditions (…) We have seven dogs that are part of our police family. “Everyone has a story of abandonment,” he explained to La Estrella de Panamá .

The great challenge, Caballero warned, is that there is no place where domestic animals that have been mistreated can be taken, “so that they can receive better treatment and be adopted. He highlighted the work of the rescuers. “They are very dedicated.”

Wild animals are not pets

According to the Biodiversity Department of the Directorate of Protected Areas of the Ministry of the Environment (MiAmbiente), the majority of the species of wild animals received by the entity come from the illegal confiscation of species that have been kept as pets, and being evaluated, it is evident that they have suffered abuse to different degrees.

“It is easy for any species of wild animal to fall victim to some type of abuse, since they have complex physiological, social and behavioral needs that cannot be met by man in a domestic environment. A wild animal cannot be domesticated either in the first or in several generations. So that cats and dogs today were domestic animals that felt comfortable in homes and could be easily fed by man, their wild ancestors were subjected to a selection and reproduction process of hundreds of generations,” the management told this half.

Caballero explained that the most common cases of abuse are due to inadequate nutrition, which in the case of birds can cause weakening of their beak, which prevents them from feeding on seeds and insects that they can obtain from their natural habitat.

“Among the inappropriate foods given to primates are fast food, bread, snacks, milk and rice, which has caused bone malformations, growth problems, tumors and malnutrition. Also, captivity, inappropriate enclosures, exposure to urban noise, cutting plumage, and isolation cause stress, psychological trauma, and behavior modification, which, for example, in the case of birds causes them to remove their feathers or monkeys. attack humans.”

In MiAmbiente, very few complaints are received for mistreatment of wildlife, the management clarified. Complaints are mainly received for alleged illegal possession or because they cause conflicts between neighbors. The provinces that receive the most complaints are Panama, Panama Oeste and Colón, he pointed out.

The most abused animals

“The wildlife that suffers the most abuse are non-human primates (monkeys), felines and psittacines (macaws, parrots and parakeets), which are the groups that people mainly keep as pets.”

The management added that primates “are social species that live in groups (troops), live in forests and spend most of their lives in the treetops from where they obtain their food and protect themselves from predators. Recreating its habitat in our homes will never meet the requirements that this animal needs; In addition to depriving them of their contribution to the maintenance of natural populations and interacting socially with members of the same species, it seriously affects them, even causing changes in their behavior.”

And these animals kept in captivity, upon reaching their reproductive stage, the management explained, become more aggressive and could attack humans. “The most popular monkeys as pets are the marmosets, which come from homes that almost always keep them in small cages where they can barely move and are fed fruits such as bananas and papaya (the most common) to formula milk and other types of food. that humans consume that are inappropriate for them.”

This poor nutrition received causes bone malformations, growth problems and other diseases. “We have also received other larger primates, such as white-faced monkeys and howler monkeys, who have kept them tied to a rope, which has caused physical injuries and negative behavioral changes. “The most serious case of abuse attended was a howler monkey that died due to health problems caused by the consumption of alcoholic beverages and cigarette consumption.”

The wildlife regulation does not establish direct penalties for mistreatment, but it does establish contraventions for illegal possession, which stipulates penalties ranging from $100 to $5,000, he reported.

Promote awareness

For the biologist specializing in fisheries and elasmobranchs (sharks and rays) Yehudi Shark, one way to avoid animal abuse is to raise awareness in schools. For her, this would be the main pillar. “When I have given talks on environmental protection, the fishermen themselves tell me that their children are the ones who tell them that they should take care of the sharks.”

In educational centers awareness can be raised, they have to promote campaigns for the care of animals, since children can be told to bring them water or food, and feed the animals. This generates sensitivity. If there is a sick animal, a collection could be made to generate funds and provide veterinary care, the animal rescuer recommended.

ELMER CABALLERO,
NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL, RURAL AND TOURIST POLICE
“They want to domesticate wild animals and remove them from their habitat, this is a form of abuse because they are not made for that life.”
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