Bogota, Jun 5 (EFE).- A total of 43 wild birds and mammals that had been rescued in urban areas of the Colombian capital were released by authorities on Monday to mark World Environment Day.
Among the freed birds were 27 eared doves, six American purple gallinules, three tropical screech owls, two nightjars, a striped owl, a barn owl, a lesser goldfinch and a sparkling violetear, species that inhabit valuable and delicate wetland ecosystems.
The mammals, meanwhile, included a guinea pig and an opossum with her young, all of which, according to the environmental secretary of the capital district, Carolina Urrutia, “are capable of successfully integrating themselves into the ecosystem.”
The animals were released at Humedal La Conejera, a wetland located north of Bogota.
Urrutia told Efe that she and her team are confident the animals can thrive, adding that they are in good physical condition and are not dependent on human beings.
She said, however, that other rescued wild animals in their care can no longer be returned to their original habitats.
“When they (the wildlife) have grown accustomed to human beings, they’re incapable of being autonomous, defending themselves or hunting,” the official said.
Over the past three years, Bogota’s Environment Secretariat has recovered nearly 20,500 wild animals that were either being illegally trafficked or had strayed into urban areas. Of that total, Urrutia said nearly 12,300 animals have been released to their original habitat after a “careful process of rehabilitation” that ensures their survival.
As part of efforts to protect wildlife in Colombia, a 24-hour free hotline has been made available for denouncing the possession, trafficking or hunting of wildlife.
This latest wildlife release coincided with World Environment Day, which this year aims to raise awareness about plastic pollution.
Over 400 million tons of plastic are produced every year around the world, half of which is designed to be used only once, according to the United Nations.
More than 800 marine and coastal species are estimated to be affected by that pollution through ingestion, entanglement and other dangers.
In Colombia, an alarming 1.25 million tons of plastic are consumed annually.
According to environmental watchdog Greenpeace, each Colombian consumes 24 kilograms (53 pounds) of plastic annually and 74 percent of plastic containers used in the Andean nation end up in landfills. EFE