Maribel Sotelo never thought her family would end up in the media. The story began last February. Her teenage son wanted a pet and bought a small dog in central Lima (Peru). He chose him when he saw him injured in the head with the intention of curing him, but after a few weeks the tail revealed that it was not the little one he had been told, but an Andean fox . For eight months, the family tried unsuccessfully to get wildlife authorities to take care of the animal and return it to its habitat. The specialists and the forest police did not appear until after television cameras told the story of the Run Run fox, already a regular in the neighborhood.
The transition from freedom to captivity Lycalopex that he played with dogs in a poor neighborhood and received food from neighbors raised awareness of all who have heard of his story. After their rescue, the number of reports of discovery or abandonment of species to the Forest and Wildlife Service (Serfor) in the department of Lima and other regions increased by 50%.
Ronald, 16, is in his last year of high school. He had saved money by playing in the streets with his father during the pandemic. Her mother had pulmonary fibrosis and they moved into a larger, more ventilated house in February. They settled in the human settlement of Sol Naciente, in the district of Comas, located north of Lima. There, the parents gave him permission to have a pet. “When I bought him small, he had wounds on his head and blood was flowing from his ears. I wanted to heal him. A few days later, as he was growing up, we saw his tail and reported back to Serfor. I communicated three times and my mother too, but they did not come, ”says the student, who plays the trumpet and is preparing to enter the Conservatory of Music.
Maribel Sotelo went to other state entities to save the little fox. “I went to the Sinchi Roca Zonal Park (which has a mini zoo), but everyone said that due to a pandemic, there was nothing they could do,” recalls the 53-year-old. One day in May, amid thunder and lightning unusual in Lima, the animal fled from his home in fear. For two months, he continued to go home for daily food, but then the neighbors started to feed him and he did not come back. Since then he lived on the stone hill and land of the Rising Sun. He walked with the dogs and slept on the roof of another house further up the hill.
In the neighborhood, they got attached to him, but one day he killed several guinea pigs (guinea pigs) and ate one. “He was very smart, he destroyed a neighbour’s corral. It would be his instinct, ”explains Luz María Uman, a resident of the neighboring district, Ampliación Sol Naciente, by telephone. It was she who told TV channels that a fox was free in Comas. “I know from the news that he will be quarantined for 30 days. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for warning him because he is now in captivity, ”Uman adds.
Run Run was captured one night after Serfor specialists threw a dart at him to put him to sleep. “They took him away quickly, they didn’t tell us. That night we cried with my son, but later they explained to us that it had to be because his body was very strong and the effect of the tranquilizer would wear off. Although the plan was to take him to the zoo in Huachipa (east of Lima), they went to the Parque de las Leyendas because it is less distant, ”says Sotelo. “I know that Runcito it’s good. Every time I call, Serfor specialists let me know. We are waiting for the end of the confinement and the evaluation of his behavior to go see him. The neighbors also want to visit him, ”says Ronald’s mother. The woman spent about $ 90 to reimburse the loss of guinea pigs, a chicken and a duck. “He doesn’t know how they insulted me, but another part of the neighbors fell in love with him,” he says.
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According to Serfor, vets at Parque de las Leyendas, a zoo in Lima, performed blood and parasitology tests on Run Run. “Currently, he receives the necessary care to ensure his nutrition and well-being,” says the entity. The institution clarifies that although it received a report months ago of the presence of an Andean fox in Comas, when it contacted the person, it said it was from a neighbor. “The location and photographs of the specimen have been requested, but the lady has not communicated any more”, they specify.
But the case might not end there. A lawyer has requested that the fox be moved to a wildlife conservation center in an attempt to return it to its habitat in the future, reports To exchange. “By putting it in a zoo, they condemned the little fox Run Run to be the object of our curiosity and our morbidity, an object of more exhibitionism,” says the lawsuit. From the zoo, they assured that he was still temporarily in his quarantine and could later be transferred.
According to the Special Attorney for Environmental Matters (FEMA), so far in 2021, he has received more complaints of the misdemeanor and acts of cruelty to wild and domestic animals than in the previous four years. Until the first week of October, it registered 716 complaints. This year, in 240 operations to fight against trafficking, it saved 766 wild animals “extracted from their natural habitat to be sold illegally”, reported the specialized prosecution.
Last week, the Ombudsman’s Office, FEMA, and civil society organizations warned that the Congressional Justice Committee had amended the notice of a bill to include illegal trafficking in species of flora and wildlife in the organized crime law. The new ruling ruled out the classification of organized crime. In doing so, it would provide the police, prosecution and the judiciary with tools for “greater efficiency in the investigation, prosecution and criminal sanctions of crimes against natural resources,” warns an official letter from the Ombudsman’s office sent. in Parliament.
The Ombudsman’s Office stresses that Peru is one of the countries with the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet and one of the 12 megadiverse countries, which is why a legal framework is needed to protect them. According to this entity, Serfor saves around 4,000 live specimens each year. In the public debate, specialists already call the emerging standard the Ley Run Run.
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