I am a Biologist currently working on getting my PhD in Genetics (defense in first two weeks of August, 2012) at the University of Sao Paulo. My main interests are the fight against illegal wildlife trade and the application of forensic science to wildlife related crimes. I have been working as a volunteer biologist for the ngo SOS FAUNA since 2007 learning about the illegal wildlife trade in Brazil. In February 2012 I launched FREELAND Brasil, an independent arm of FREELAND Foundation (www.freeland.org), and its mission will be to fight wildlife trafficking through the incubation of initiatives with the same mission - such as the Brazilian Independent Wildlife Forensic Genetics Laboratory - my main career goal, the development of research projects, educational material, courses and workshops, the establishment of partnerships between law enforcement, environmental and customs agencies, non-profit organizations, politicians and other sectors from society. Through FREELAND Brasil my colleagues and I will be able to develop projects intended to understand more about wildlife trafficking in Brazil and south america, raise relevant information and promote education and awareness efforts. Wildlife trafficking in Brazil assumes many forms: biopiracy, the trade to supply zoos and collectors, the trade of religious and luck charms and souvenirs, the timber trade and the pet trade. I have been working more closely with the illegal pet trade, which targets small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and mainly song birds, parrots and macaws. Not only I have learned about the trade itself and issues related to the rehabilitation and responsible release of the seized fauna, but I joined the police in investigations, on the ground raids and seizures, and I did research field work in the regions where the animals are collected to develop an in-depth understanding of this problem. In these field work trips I got in contact with isolated rural communities, usually the first ones to take the animals from nature. There is a severe lack of education, health facilities, stable sources of income, and overall social inclusion programs. Wildlife trafficking is not a crime described in the Brazilian law, so no one can be prosecuted for this crime. They are prosecuted for transporting and owning animals without permits, which are only misdemeanors. This means that wildlife trafficking is highly profitable, with the ever growing demand for wild pets, and very little is at stake if the dealers are caught by the police.
I am currently working on 4 main projects:
1. the PhD and population genetics studies intended to understand where animals are being taken from, both to help with prevention and to help guide releasing efforts;
2. the releasing of a group of 62 blue-fronted amazons being rehabilitated at SOS Fauna since 2006;
3. returning over 1800 peruvian canaries seized in Brazil to Peru, where they are an endemic subspecies. They are currently under the care of SOS Fauna;
4. the setting up of a small independent not for profit wildlife forensics laboratory in Brazil
Wildlife, Forensics, Science, DeRose Method, Swimming, good music and books, true friends, stray dogs, animals, the sea...
We must spread the need for the development of Wildlife Forensics, so that we can have scientific data as evidence to be used in legal processes. Crimes against wildlife are nowadays comparable to illegal drug and gun trade, and we are far from winning this fight. A Wildlife Forensics Lab in a mega diverse and mega exploited country such as Brazil would give the legal system tools to make legal decisions based on scientific evidence, what would help the full prossecution of such cases, making wildlife trafficking more difficult and certainly less profitable.
Science, Wildlife, Sports, whatever you would like to!
swimming, making "brigadeiro, teaching, kicking doors down
My TED story couldn't have began in a better way: I attended the 2009 conference at Long Beach and gave a talk at TED University! I also had the honor of being selected as one of the 2010-2012 TED senior fellows. And on TED 2010 I also gave a TEDU talk which made it to TED.com. The repercussion was instant. Having a talk on TED.com spread the problem of illegal wildlife trade in Brazil and the issue of what to do with the seized animals. I know that these are the high points of my professional life until today. Also, being at TED and Interacting with so many people amazing people,who are so accomplished and are still wanting to accomplish gave me even more hope and energy to keep on with my project of saving the world (!). The TED experience was a unique and special experience which I will always treasure and cherish.
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