PETEN, Guatemala—In a joint effort by non-governmental organizations Humane Society International/Latin America and Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre—which is known as ARCAS—40 animals of 14 different species were released in the Yaxha Nakum Naranjo National Park in Peten, Guatemala, after being rescued from illegal trafficking and going through a rigorous rehabilitation process.
With the authorization of Guatemalan authorities from the National Council for Protected Areas, or CONAP, the animals were released to the Maya Biosphere Reserve following rehabilitation after falling victim to wildlife trafficking or negative interactions with humans. Some of the rehabilitation activities included learning how to fly, jump, run, hide from predators and identify food in the wild.
“Keeping wild animals as ‘pets’ is a dangerous trend that is seriously affecting our ecosystems,” said Andrea Borel, executive director of HSI/Latin America. “Together with our local partner, ARCAS, we work to give these animals—who should have never been taken from their homes—a second chance in life to grow and flourish.”
Endangered species are highly valued in the wildlife trade because of their rarity, leading to overexploitation and black-market trade, and pushing these species further toward extinction. The rehabilitation of these animals is essential in strengthening the populations of endemic and endangered species in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which have been considerably depleted and diminished in their natural habitats by human action. Release and rehabilitation of these animals is necessary to ensure that there are healthy populations capable of adapting and reproducing in their natural habitat.
ARCAS carries out the physical, medical and behavioral rehabilitation of victims of wildlife trafficking under strict scientific management standards and later releases animals into their natural habitat. HSI/Latin America and ARCAS have been working together in wildlife protection and conservation in Guatemala since 2004.