But this isn’t simple poaching, he said. Sibira and other investigators from Zulia University, a public university in Maracaibo, are convinced that the protected birds have become the latest victims of Venezuela's growing hunger crisis. People have become so desperate, he said, that they are butchering and eating flamingos.
other signs that food shortages have led to the slaughtering of animals
not generally considered meat: giant anteaters, for one. The university
investigators — biologists and biology students — say they have kept
records to show that dozens of the slow-moving creatures, classified as
“vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, also
have been killed for food.
In the city’s dump, more evidence of
hunger-driven desperation: dismembered dogs, cats, donkeys, horses and
pigeons have been found since last year, all skinned or plucked, with
signs of having been eaten, according to the city’s garbage teams.
In the past, it wasn't uncommon to see a homeless or mentally ill
person searching through the garbage, but scavenging for food has become
widespread. People are often seen looking for discarded eggs, cookies,
milk, flour, breads, broccoli stems, beet leaves or expired butter, said
Campos, a sociologist at Zulia.
For most families, healthy meals
are simply out of reach. Two pounds of sugar or corn flour, for example,
cost about 7,800 bolivares, or $2 dollars, on the black market. And two
pounds of premium meat runs 10,000 bolivares. Those three items alone
represent more than half the official monthly minimum wage of 40,000
bolivares, or $11 dollars.
I have no comments to make, I'm too pissed.