Notorious wildlife market, largest in Peruvian Amazon, back in business after pandemic hiatus
After an overhaul aimed at modernizing Belén Market and preventing the spread of COVID-19, illegal selling of wildlife persists.
At booths lining the walkways, sloth paws are stored in jars next to dried herbs, and yellow-footed turtle meat lies alongside chicken breasts. A leopard skin drapes above a stall, like a rug drying on a laundry rack. Handicrafts sit atop tables in rows, as do bottles of pink dolphin genitalia. Parakeets for sale as pets hop in small cages. Fish, sliced open but still alive, writhe in buckets.
This is the scene in October 2019 at Belén Market, a sprawling outdoor bazaar in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon where more than 200 species of wild animals—living and dead—were illegally for sale.
Two months later, on the other side of the world, a novel coronavirus broke out in China