Brazilian authorities have arrested a gang of illegal poachers, including a dentist who is accused of killing more than 1,000 jaguars.
Police arrested seven men in the state of Acre on suspicion of having illegally killed thousands of endangered species, including jaguars, capybara, collared peccary and red brocket deer.
According to reports, the most active and longest-serving member of the gang was Temistocles Barbosa Freire, a dentist believed to have killed thousands of jaguars since 1987.
The jaguar, which is classified as vulnerable in Brazil, has undergone a loss of nearly 38 per cent of its habitat in the country and has undergone major declines in population in all regions, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The three largest threats to jaguars in the Amazon are: clearance of native ecosystems in which they live; the direct killing of jaguars because of real or perceived conflicts with people; and hunting of the prey that jaguar need to survive.
In this case, the jaguars themselves were being hunted by the gang, whose conversations were reportedly hacked by Brazilian authorities, who also monitored their movements for at least three months before making any arrests.
Police wiretapped and monitored the group’s mobile phones, and collected photos and videos in which the accused had recorded the animals being killed, non-governmental organisation Oeco reports, as per the MailOnline.
The organisation states that in just three months of monitoring, there were 11 incidents of poaching during which 13 capybaras, 10 hounds, eight jaguars, and two dead deer were killed by the group.
The poachers are believed to have used the sound of a high-pitched Brazilian friction drum, the cuica, to attract the jaguars.
Seven men were arrested following the investigation, with the Federal Court opening criminal cases of illegal hunting and the use of a firearm without a permit against all the men.
Among the other members of the gang was a doctor, Doria de Lucena Júnior; a server of the Judiciary, Sinézio Adriano de Oliveira; a farmer, Gilvan Souza Nunes; and an electrician, Gisleno José Oliveira de Araújo Sá Alves de Oliveira.
The professions of the other three men – Sebastião Júnior de Oliveira Costa, Reginaldo Ribeiro da Silva and Gersildo dos Santos Araújo – were not specified.
Each member of the gang could face fines or prison sentences for their part in the killings, depending on their levels of participation in each of the crimes committed.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).