November 5, 2010

Illegal Wildlife:The Shame of Belen

Did you know the illegal wildlife trade is second only to drug trafficking in terms of money and profit?  Iquitos, a city claiming to be the "Eco tourism Capitol of the World," is rife with this trade, and not enough government resources are devoted to fighting this shameful business.  Linda Schwefel spent time in Iquitos recently, and his written several articles about the infamous Belen Market. Some pictures may be disturbing.   In her words:

Some areas of the market had some more breathtakingly horrible wares for sale, including monkey skulls, sloth heads, necklaces made of python vertebrae, and, truly disturbing, dried and stretched leopard skins.

The part of the market I had most problems navigating was the meat area. The smell here was rich and primal, with warring aromas - one moment you would smell something delicious, like the roasting unnamed meat, then you'd catch a whiff of pure fly-blown rancidity. There were chicken innards in small piles with their sad, primitive feet crossed on the top as a grim garnish; there were tortoises, front and back ends, with their cracked and blood-crusted shells abandoned in a careless heap; there were giant rolls of pig fat, and pig faces inside-out like dreadful rubber Halloween masks. As a carnivore apologist, I prefer not to know where my food comes from; in this market, such hypocrisy is impossible. I kept my hands over my face, gratefully inhaling Jergens hand lotion, Gain fabric softener, even my own acrid sweat, to avoid the offal stink.

Written by Linda Schwefel
Photo by Barbara Bennett

Related Blogs:   
Aromas of the Belen market 
Shamans Cure Impotency and More 
Life With a Capital "L"


  1. this is awesome where is this place?

    1. Belen is a district of Iquitos, Peru, in the region of Loreto.

      Shannon Sullivan
      Blog Editor


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