Venezuela’s food crisis has gotten so bad that people are apparently killing pink flamingos and other protected animals in order to stave off hunger.
While flamingo hunting is both illegal and uncommon in the South American nation, investigators from Zulia University in the northwestern Venezuelan city of Maracaibo have noted at least 20 cases of bird carcasses being discovered with their breasts and torsos removed.
And flamingos aren’t the only unusual animal to become a victim of Venezuela’s worsening food crisis. Remains of everything from dogs and cats to donkeys and even giant anteaters have been found in garbage bags at city dumps around the country.
“Sometimes we only find the animal’s heads, guts and legs. We used to see this very little in the past, but this practice is now out of control and on the rise,” Robert Linares, a Maracaibo waste disposal worker, told the Miami Herald. Linares added he recently found on the street the remains of a dog that had been skinned and dismembered.
The once-wealthy oil producing nation has fallen on hard times since Nicolás Maduro took power following the death of socialist leader Hugo Chávez in 2013. A drop in global oil prices has crippled the country’s economy and Venezuela has been plagued with the worst inflation rate in the world, close to 700 per cent last year, according to International Monetary Fund.
The collapse of the country’s economy has made it difficult to import basic goods such as food and medicine, created acute shortages and stirred deep-seated anger toward Maduro. A recent study conducted by three universities found that in 2015 87 percent of Venezuelans didn’t have enough money to buy sufficient food for their families.
The lack of food has even earned its own nickname: “The Maduro Diet.”