Fueling the demand of the illegal market
Birds and small mammals removed from the park today supply an illegal market that moves thousands of reais. Between 2009 and 2019, more than 1,300 infraction notices were registered within the park; number should increase if vehicles transit the Estrada do Colono again.
Hunting is part of the culture in many rural communities, a practice still considered acceptable especially by an older generation of people. “Many of the offenders arrested by the police are between 50 and 65 years old. They have always hunted and continue to hunt. The cultural issue is very clear. People go there simply for the pleasure and pleasure of this activity. They set up a camp, cut a heart of palm there, kill an animal, eat it there or bring it home and that's it”, says Szinwelski.
However, it is known that both the extraction of heart of palm and the hunting and fishing of some specific species are done to supply the demand of an illegal market of products considered as delicacies by consumers with high purchasing power, and also, without concern to be breaking the law.
That is, animals are killed for their meat to be consumed. According to the Unioeste professor, from what is heard in the region, the price of a paca ranges from R$ 800 to R$ 1,000 and that of a deer can reach up to R$ 2,000. “Faced with an arrest, which may not happen, hunting and getting an amount that can be equivalent to a minimum wage or more in one night, criminals prefer to take the risk, says Szinwelski.
What makes the prospect of the possible reopening of Estrada do Colono even more worrying is that, since President Jair Bolsonaro took office and put into practice an arms policy, encouraging the population to carry weapons, there has been a jump of 333 % in new gun registrations for CACs (Hunters, Shooters, and Firearms Collectors). Between 2018 and 2021, the number increased from 59,439 to 257,541.
With more weapons in hand and a road that will make the fauna and flora of the Iguaçu National Park even more vulnerable, it will be almost impossible for the main function of what is considered a Natural Heritage of Humanity to be fulfilled: the protection of its biodiversity.