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Warning Message To Those Japanese Fellows Who Are Thinking About Visiting The Amazon For Insect Collecting

Currently the whole area of the Brazilian Amazon is designated as a national park, where no collecting or taking out of any insects or plants whatsoever is strictly forbidden; it has been 3 years since the ban came into effect, under which if you are caught in such an act, you will be arrested on the spot and subject to a prison sentence, not a pecuniary offense. So, for the past 3 years, there have been hardly any Japanese collectors visiting the area for those purposes, and I myself have never collected a single piece of insect or plant for the past 10 years.

Never try to conceal collected insects or plants about your person because high-performance scanners installed at Manaus Airport will, without fail, baffle any attempt to sneak out illicit specimens.

Since the Amazon is such a vast area, there must be some daredevil illicit vendors enaged in banned insect/plant trading, but those poachers are usually based clandestinely in the outback, so it is impossible anyway for a stranger from Japan to come into contact with them during his short period of stay in the area.

There was a World Entomology Conference held in Iguassu Falls at the end of this August. More than 100 entomologists from Japan participated in the gathering but only a few of them came around to the Amazon afterward because they knew that insect collecting was banned here.

So, please understand that there is no way I could help you satisfy your wishes to collect plants and animals here in the Amazon. Also, please don't forget that it is against the law to bring any Japanese butterfly into the Amazon as well.

September 10, 2000
Shoji Hashimoto
Director, Amazon Natural Science Museum

[ warning in Japanese - the original ]

The Amazon Is An Arena For Fierce Biotech Competition Now

-- There Is No Place Any More For A Bug-loving Boy's Dream of Good Old Days --

I was going to write an informative essay on this subject but then I am getting too busy, so let me just brief you, my dear readers, on the background of why I say so.

To put it plainly, the Brazilian Amazon is a treasure trove of resources for cutting-edge genetic engineering, to which biotechnology firms around the world are itching for gaining access. From the Brazilian point of view, it is like a massive diamond mine; you never know how much profit you might be able to make out of even a tiny bug.

The Brazilians would certainly feel as if they had been robbed of their diamonds if foreign firms were allowed to take golden eggs in the form of a bug or plant out of the country for manufacture of a new drug.

For this reason, the respective airports in the Amazon basin are now provided with state-of-the-art detection equipment to catch those in the act of illicit traffic of plants and animals. Arrests of trafficers are reported every once in so often; it tells how well the detection machine outperforms the traffickers.

So, the naive idea of going hunting for butterflies in the jungle with a ring net without recognizing that you are stepping into a forbidden place is an extremely reckless endeavor, more dangerous than one might imagine; it is like trespassing diamond mines in Namibia where heavily armed troops are on guard full time. When it comes to the probability of arrests, smuggling in heroin across the border of Columbia would probably be much safer compared to poaching/trafficking of insects/plants in the Amazon. I wouldn't recommend either of the illicit activities though.

As a matter of course, all the research work on Agrias butterflies that I am currently conducting is strictly limited to observations using video and other equipment.

by Shoji Hashimoto, Director, Amazon Natural Science Museum
September 12, 2000

[ warning in Japanese - the original ]

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