CHE intensityCivil SocietyEnvironmentLife conditions

REPORT | Clima21 – Wildlife and the Humanitarian Emergency in Venezuela: a crisis that besieges biodiversity

Clima21 | Venezuela | May 18, 2022

Executive Summary

There is an essential interdependence between human rights and the conservation of biodiversity. Therefore, inadequate management of diversity can cause serious damage to human societies, as shown by the current COVID-19 pandemic, whose origin, as in other cases, seems to be connected to the irresponsible management of wildlife.

An accelerated loss of biological diversity is taking place in Venezuela, which may be influencing the violation of human rights. In this sense, the objective of this work is to understand the relationships between the existing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and biodiversity, specifically wildlife.

The information for this work was obtained from the review of scholarly literature on wildlife conservation; reports and journalistic investigations related to this topic, and surveys of experts on the extraction of wildlife from its natural habitat.

The most relevant findings of this study are the following:

In the last sixty years, the consumption of wildlife species had been relegated to rural and indigenous communities. In these communities, the consumption of bushmeat can be an essential component of people’s diet, reaching up to 100% in indigenous communities.

For decades, wildlife has been suffering a process of continuous loss that seems to have worsened in recent years as a result of the economic crisis. This situation has pushed some population groups to consume wildlife as a means of subsistence and, at the same time, facilitated the growth of illegal species trafficking, both by people who capture specimens to solve their individual economic problems, as well as by organized crime groups operating in the country.

On the other hand, the role of the State in terms of biodiversity management is perceived as insufficient. Similarly, the action aimed at preventing poaching and illegal trafficking in species seems to have a punitive approach that focuses on offenders from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Additionally, the economic and political crisis is forcing a significant number of professionals and researchers in environmental management to resign from their positions and even leave the country. Likewise, the situation of abandonment, harassment and destruction that public universities are suffering is affecting research programs and the training of professionals in these areas.

This complex situation seems to have a greater impact on wildlife populations and on the most vulnerable human groups that rely on natural resources. At the same time, the country has decreasing numbers of professionals who can generate information and implement adequate biodiversity management strategies.

Based on these conclusions, the Venezuelan State is urged, among other issues, to value the strategic importance of biological diversity; to rethink and strengthen the National Strategy for the Conservation of Biological Diversity with a human rights approach; and to promote training, access to information and participation in the conservation of biological diversity.

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