Even though Colombia is among the top 12 most biologically diverse countries in the world, the lack of sustainable development and the over exploition of biologically diverse areas threatens both the flora and fauna of the country.
According to an article in El Tiempo, Colombia has the most unique species of birds and amphibians in the world. It is second in the world in the numbner of different plant species. It is third in the number of diverse mammals, and fourth in diversity of reptiles.
Illegal drug production poses one of the greatest threats to certain species, as it reduces natural habitats and contributes to the free-for-all killing of jaguars and other large mammal species.
In addition to the ecological threats posed by illegal drug production, the social conflict and the resulting lack of work opportunities has caused some of Colombia's population to turn to the hunting and trafficking of animals in order to make ends meet. At risk are parrots, turtles, tigrillos, racoons, and anteaters to name a few. Over 10 years ago, the BBC produced a report about the illegal animal trafficking from Colombia to points abroad. At that time, it was estimated that over 7 million animals were illegally tafficked each year.
Timothy Ross reported:
Parrots, toucans and macaws, the golden lion tamarin, marmosets, ocelots and margay cats, even baby alligators, are victims of a savage traffic. Large areas of jungle are stripped of every living thing. The bigger animals are packed into boxes and often flown out on the same illegal flights used for smuggling cocaine because, as one animal trafficker said, pound for pound parrots pay better than drugs. The endangered scarlet macaw can be bought in Leticia, on the Amazon river, for $20 to £50 but in New York it can fetch £5,000 or more, if of course it arrives alive, for the report by the Minister of the Environment says that far more than half of the animals die on route. And of course every one that is killed or taken from its habitat reduces the chances of an endangered species surviving. On the list of animals whose trading is internationally banned are 49 Colombian species in serious danger of extinction, but enforcement of the international agreement is very weak.
According to Endangered Species International, in Colombia over 100 species are critically endangered, over 200 species are endangered, and the status of more than 180 species is unknown.