The rise of jaguar poaching in Suriname provides a lesson in how a wildlife trafficking network can emerge opportunistically when interests collide — in this case natural resource extraction and Chinese investment — alongside a lack of wildlife crime policing. The chain links this small South American country to vast Asian black markets that have long prized medicinal products made from big cats, especially from tigers, which have grown scarce.
The trade begins with miners, loggers and hunters who chance upon a jaguar deep in the Amazon forest, or experienced poachers who head out to the field to kill a jaguar “on the off chance they can sell it, or if they already have a buyer lined up,” Bruschi told InSight Crime.
After the animal is killed, it is sold to local Chinese merchants who set up around the mining camps. The buyers broker the animal to processors in Suri-name’s capital, Paramaribo, who boil it down to a type of paste that is later smuggled out of the country, eventually reaching Asia.
“We believe the trade is a lot bigger than we realize,” Bruschi said. “It has been a blind spot in the last few years.”