4 min read

Man Sees A Wild Bird For Sale — And Gives Her Something Priceless

"The important thing is seeing the animal free and happy."

The wildlife trade remains one of the largest and most pervasive threats facing animals today. But in Brazil, where enforcement of environmental laws can often be lacking, one man has been working to help wild captured animals all on his own.

His goal? To make sure they get back home.

Massionilio Rocha

Massionilio Rocha lives in Piritiba, a semiarid region in Brazil’s northeast. For the better part of 20 years, he’s taken it upon himself to intervene on occasions that he sees wild-caught animals up for sale by people in his community — going as far as paying out of pocket to secure their freedom.

“I have been doing this for a long time,” Rocha told The Dodo. “Unfortunately, the police don’t always act, and there are no agencies around to prevent this practice.”

Recently, Rocha’s actions were caught on a video which has since gone viral. He’d encountered a young man who had captured a bird from the wild two days earlier. And, after a brief negotiation, the young man agreed to sell him the animal for the equivalent of about $3 USD.

What Rocha did next left the young man stunned.

“He asked me why I set the bird free. I informed him that he had committed a crime and could go to jail,” Rocha said, adding that the young man appeared to get the message.

While it could be argued that Rocha’s approach is misguided, incentivizing the wildlife trade rather than preventing it, he hopes those he encounters will take heed from the example of compassion that he is setting.

“I feel like I fulfill my duties. The important thing is seeing the animal free and happy,” Rocha said. “Animals are responsible for balance in nature and they are connected to our lives. We depend on them and they depend on us, just like we depend on our community.”

You can help combat the illegal wildlife trade by supporting TRAFFIC, an organization working globally to protect animals and the environment from this harmful industry.