Adonis Diaries

Insect Trafficking: A butterfly sold for $2,000?

Posted on: September 19, 2010

Do you know Bolivia is located?  It is in Latin America with Capital La Paz at over 3,000 meters of altitude and bordered by five States.  There is this region at high altitude (5,000 meters) called Yungas with this city named Coroico rich in biodiversity of insects such as scarabs, butterfly, bees, and many other kinds of endangered species.

Traffickers of rare, endangered, and colorful insects living in restricted environment are called “Chinitos” or little Chinese (not necessarily from China but from Asia and Japan) visit these regions twice a year between February and May and carry their loads of insects.  The traffickers hire the local peasants to setting up traps of nets of gaze.

Primo among the insects are giant yellow butterflies spotted blue (10 cm long) and scientifically named “Agrias amydon boliviensis”; they are sold $2,000 apiece and bought for $10.  A plastic box (30*30 cm) may hold 100 butterflies.  Between two to three boxes are shipped every week to the USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, and Asia.

Bees named “Eulaema” of metallic color and specialized in pollinating orchids are very much in demand.  Peruvians buy scarabs in abundance.

This traffic generates $250,000 for local peasants (or one dollars for every insect on average). Only in 2009 did the Bolivian government decreed an environmental protection law #1333 with prison terms up to two years.  The problem is that there is no specialized police force or institutions to monitor and supervise this illegal traffic.

2 Responses to "Insect Trafficking: A butterfly sold for $2,000?"

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