You wild animal screening and rehabilitation centers (Cetras) are part of an important link in the fight against wild animal trafficking as they enable the appropriate management of the various specimens that are seized by inspection bodies, in addition to also serving those collected in at-risk situations or voluntarily handed over by the population.
Cetras are places of passage. In them, animals are identified according to species, undergo thorough clinical, physical and behavioral evaluation and receive the necessary care so that they can recover and begin the rehabilitation process. The animals remain in these centers only for the necessary time until they are ready to be sent to their final destination, which, for the vast majority of them, is the return to nature.
With the publication of Complementary Law nº 140, in December 2011, the responsibility for captive wildlife management was transferred from the Union to the States. However, there was no transfer of duties relating to free-living fauna and the management of endangered species, which continued to be a federal responsibility. Thus, a scenario was created in which both the States and the Union must maintain Cetras to care for animals originating from actions under their responsibility.
Given this context, considering that Ibama in Minas Gerais had a highly qualified, experienced technical team and three screening centers (called Cetas) in operation, and that the State would need to start the work from scratch, it was understood that the formalization of a Technical Cooperation Agreement (ACT) between the bodies would be the best way to deal with the change without the wildlife being affected. Thus, on June 5, 2013, an ACT was signed between Ibama/MG and the State Institute of Forests of Minas Gerais (IEF/MG) aimed at sharing and managing the centers belonging to the federal agency in the State.
The shared management of Cetas in Minas Gerais
One of the biggest obstacles to the operation of screening and rehabilitation centers is the training of their technical team. Cetas de Belo Horizonte’s shared management model, one of the few in force in the country, allows teams from both institutes to work together, practically doubling the workforce that the institutions would have if they operated alone. In addition to optimizing teams, ACT avoids wasting public resources, which are so scarce in both government spheres, eliminating the need for duplication of buildings and structures that would have the same functions and objectives.
In addition to the partnership with IEF/MG in 2020, Ibama/MG also signed an ACT with the NGO Waita – Institute for Research and Conservation, aiming to develop environmental conservation activities. Through this agreement, several projects are developed in partnership between the institutions, adding even more efforts and substantially increasing the technical team working at Cetas. Joint work ranges from daily handling of animals, through rehabilitation, monitored release, registration of new release areas, rescue of wildlife in risky situations in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, among many others.
The Bicho Solto project, for example, allows Waita professionals to work directly in the routine of Cetas de Belo Horizonte, which includes animal management. Strengthening the team allows the careful development of work with the specimens, increasing efficiency, reducing rehabilitation time and, consequently, the time they are kept at Cetas.
The greater number of professionals makes it possible to diversify work and work and cooperate in conservation projects that would be unthinkable to be carried out by small teams.
Another arm of this partnership is the Voar Project, developed with true parrots (Aestive Amazon) and purple-breasted parrots (Amazon vinacea) and which aims to rehabilitate and monitored release of these animals. They are received and cared for at Cetas in Belo Horizonte and released in two Wild Animal Release Areas (Wings) registered by Ibama and IEF after a fauna survey carried out by the Waita team.
The long and careful post-release monitoring carried out by the Waita field team has demonstrated, in a scientific way, that even those animals kept in captivity for long years are capable of returning to the wild after being correctly trained, managing to integrate into groups of animals of free life and reproducing. This is extremely important data to support such important work, but at the same time it is routinely questioned.
The management and operation of a Cetras is an enormous challenge – regardless of who is responsible, be it a public body, private company or representatives of the third sector. Maintenance costs are extremely high and the technical team needs to be specialized. The Minas Gerais experience shows that the union of different government spheres and the third sector under the same objective allows the difficulties faced in the day-to-day management of complex structures that require high investment for their maintenance to be minimized. Partnerships bring invaluable benefits to animal management, with an increase in trained professionals and a reduction in expenses due to the sharing of high maintenance cost structures.
All this combined effort is reflected in a substantial gain for the animals, which have closer monitoring, careful and efficient rehabilitation and guarantee the possibility of returning to freedom with post-release monitoring in carefully chosen and registered areas.
After all, everyone’s goal is for the animals received at Cetras to have a well-deserved second chance.