Bolsonaro's New Ecotourism Ambassador Racked Up Wildlife Infractions

Richard Rasmussen suspected of trafficking animals at a breeding place in the interior of São Paulo

São Paulo

Famous for his jungle adventures and love of exotic animals, TV presenter Richard Rasmussen has been fined by IBAMA in eight wildlife offenses. Last Friday (2), he was announced by President Bolsonaro's social networks as an ambassador of tourism in Brazil, with an emphasis on ecotourism.

The total fines, applied between 2002 and 2009, are R$ 263,1 thousand. The highest penalty received by the presenter, of R $ 144 thousand, dated 2004, for giving or exchanging wild specimens without authorization from the responsible agency.

Richard Rasmussen - Sabrina M. Rasmussen/Divulgação

Most of the assessments took place in Carapicuíba, a metropolitan region of São Paulo, where Rasmussen had a breeding facility with no evidence of animal origin and suspected trafficking. The space was closed by Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) in 2005.

Rasmussen was sought by Folha but did not return contact. In a conversation with netizens promoted by UOL in 2008, he admitted that the breeding staff did not keep records about the donations of animals they received or about the animals that died at the breeding place, which, according to him, did not have a veterinarian. In the chat, he also complains about the lack of government assistance for the breeding sites to have revenue.

As an ambassador, the biologist will promote Brazil abroad as an ecotourism destination, participating in international events as a speaker.

He gave the federal government access to his entire collection of images. The content, however, is criticized by biologists and conservation experts, who see evidence of disturbance and mistreatment of wildlife in the photos.

Despite his background with environmental agencies, Rasmussen argues in an article on his website that wild game hunting could be authorized by environmental licenses, at a value that would be reversed in conservation actions.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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