World Animal Protection campaigns to save Amazon dolphins from slaughter

Share Article

Amazon pink river dolphins cruelly hunted, slaughtered for fishing bait in mass numbers

News Image

World Animal Protection is campaigning to save Amazon pink river dolphins (Botos) from being slaughtered for illegal use as fishing bait to catch Piracatinga, a type of catfish. The organization was part of a working group that earlier this year persuaded the Brazilian government to introduce a five-year moratorium on Piracatinga commercial fishing, beginning January 2015. World Animal Protection is now seeking for the Colombian government to stop imports of Piracatinga from Brazil. More than 100,000 supporters in Latin America have already signed World Animal Protection’s petition supporting the dolphins’ protection.

In the Brazilian Amazon, thousands of Boto dolphins per year are illegally hunted, primarily for bait to catch Piracatinga. During a hunt, dolphins are corralled into nets and harpooned by fishermen. The dolphins are then tied by their tail flukes, usually while still alive, to submerged trees and left until the fishermen return to later kill them. This practice of keeping the wounded dolphins underwater makes it hard for fishermen to be caught in possession of Boto bait, which is illegal, by authorities. According to researchers, the Boto population is shrinking at a dangerous rate of 10% per year, with reports of hunts also coming from Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

“The pain and stress these beautiful animals endure is unimaginable,” says Roberto Vieto, Wildlife Campaigns Officer at World Animal Protection. “The Botos may struggle to free themselves for days before finally dying. And although their capture is illegal, enforcement of this law has been poor. This means the fishermen carrying out such cruelty and the intermediaries who buy the fish have rarely been caught. We need to stop these hunts now and find sustainable alternatives for the fishermen’s livelihoods, so they can provide for their families without cruelty towards dolphins.”

During the five-year moratorium in Brazil, the Brazilian government will work with the national fishing industry to develop different ways of catching Piracatinga, as well as alternative means of employment for fishermen. It has also committed to creating a governmental task force to protect the dolphins. And since Colombia is one of the biggest consumers of Piracatinga, World Animal Protection is also campaigning there to stop the sale and purchase of fish caught with Boto bait. Piracatinga caught using Botos is illegally exported to Colombia, meaning Colombian consumers buy the fish without realizing it was caught by these cruel methods. Piracatinga is also deceptively sold and marketed as capaz, a type of fish widely consumed in Colombia whose population is depleted due to overfishing.

“With the help of supporters, we are asking Colombian authorities to stop the commercialization of piracatinga imported from Brazil,” says Roberto. “We’ll be working hard over the next few months to persuade Colombian government to do this and also to look at ways that enforcement of laws protecting the dolphins can be improved in Brazil. We are also educating Colombian consumers that buy capaz, as they don’t know that they’re actually consuming piracatinga caught with Boto bait and smuggled into the country.”

In addition to Boto dolphins, caiman alligators and Tucuxi dolphins are also widely hunted and used as fishing bait. By lobbying the Colombian and Brazilian governments to improve regulations, World Animal Protection hopes to combat the cruelty towards wildlife hunted for bait.

To sign and share World Animal Protection’s petition urging Colombian authorities to protect the Boto dolphin, visit


We were formerly known as WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals).

Contact Carla Pisarro for media interviews, photos or for more information: carlapisarro(at)worldanimalprotection(dot)us(dot)org / +1-646-783-2210

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Carla Pisarro
Visit website