D. tinctorius tumucumaque – smuggled do not buy

Unfortunately over the last 15+ years as of the time of this writing, Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” (a.k.a Dendrobates tinctorius “peacock”, the “peacock tinctorius”, or the “peacock tinc”) has gone from being discovered in a protected park in Brazil to being smuggled and widely available in the frog hobby, though mostly in Europe. If you do a search on them, rarely do you find much information on their illegal origins alerting new hobbyists to the legal pitfalls of acquiring these animals in the United States. I’m hoping this page on Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” or the “peacock” tinc makes its way to the top of your search results so you are better informed before making a purchase.

D. tinctorius tumucumaque

First identified in 2006, this colorful locale of D. tinctorius hails from the State of Ampa, Brazil, within the boundaries of the Amapá Biodiversity Corridor.

No exports of Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” peacock were ever authorized from Brazil, or this wildlife refuge.

Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” live in a protected refuge

The Amapá Biodiversity Corridor is an ecological corridor in the state of Amapá, Brazil. It provides a degree of integrated management for conservation units and other areas covering 10,476,117 ha (25,887,000 acres), or 72% of the state.

An ecological corridor in Brazil is a collection of natural or semi-natural areas that link protected areas and allow gene flow between them. The Biodiversity Corridor links protected areas in Amapá to protected areas in Pará and in other Guiana Shield countries.

The Guiana Shield and the state of Amapá have great biodiversity. More than 180 mammal species have been identified in the protected areas, including the jaguar, giant otter, red-handed howler, giant anteater and Amazonian manatee.

The Biodiversity Corridor includes the Juminá, Galibi, Uaça, Parque do Tumucumaque and Waiãpi indigenous territories. As of 2016, it included 12 federal or state protected areas.

LAC Geographic

The initial illegal collection

It is believed that 26 specimens of Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” were illegally collected, then smuggled to the Netherlands in 2009 where they were laundered through multiple countries in the European Union, and exported across the world, including the United states.

In the US, illegal collection means offspring are illegal too

There was a post on Dendroboard specifically asking about a similar case of another smuggled Brazilian frog, Adelphobates galactonotus “blue”. USFW clearly states the interpretation of US law about animals like blue galacts and tumucumaques:

If a given zoo receives illegally imported and/or confiscated CITES-listed specimens, then offspring from those specimens would not be legal to distribute within that country and could not be legally exported to other countries

Dendroboard 2018

There are many instances where the legal status of a particular species or locale is not understood, or an uninformed hobbyist makes a genuine mistake. There are some species or locales of frogs that have been in the hobby for 30 or more years that are from Brazil and they are tolerated by USFW and considered “gray area” frogs due to poor record keeping (see Lorenzo and red galactanotus). These animals entered the trade when information was hard to come by. The sheer variety of locales makes it easy for smugglers to launder animals, which is what commonly happens with Dendrobates tinctorius, and specifically what happened with Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque”.

However, in the case of Adelphobates galactonotus “blue” and Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque”, there was sufficient information available for hobbyists at the time of the discovery of these locales to clearly understand these two locales were never going to be legally exported.

Please do not purchase these animals. There are so many other beautiful varieties available in the hobby, we don’t need any from illegal origins.

The Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” timeline

Let’s take a rough look at how this happened. This timeline is the best reconstruction I can put together tracing conversations on the Dendroboard message board:

You can see the frequency of posts increase over the course of a decade. The initial posts acknowledged the origins of Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” peacock and clearly stated imports would be illegal. As pictures circulated and new hobbyists asked about Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque”, more posts outlined the illegality of Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque”. By 2018 EU hobbyists were posting pictures of their captive bred animals, with additional comments about the illegal nature of the locale, specifically surrounding the likely impending import of specimens into the US.

The key highlights of the timeline:

  • Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” was first identified in 2006.
  • within 3 years, 26 Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” were illegally smuggled to the Netherlands.
  • within 10 years, Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” breeding stock proliferated across the EU. During this time confiscated animals were handed over to zoos, and captive bred animals were subsequently released to the hobby. These captive bred offspring are considered “legal” in many EU countries. These animals are illegal in the US.
  • within 12 years, Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” was widely available within the EU and pictures of captive bred pairs, froglets, and shipped lots of animals were shared on message boards.
  • within 14 years, laundered animals were illegally imported into the US leveraging the multitude of locales of “Dendrobates tinctorius” to hide their true origins.

What can you do?

The Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” peacock situation is truly frustrating. Before you purchase, investigate the species and locale. Visit the boards. Use the search function to find as much information as you can. Post a question asking about the legality. Ask about reputable breeders. Enjoy the long established locales that already exist in the hobby. Keep an eye out for name variants like:

  • Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque”
  • Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” peacock
  • Dendrobates tinctorius peacock
  • D. tinctorius “tumucumaque”
  • tinctorius “tumucumaque”
  • “tumucumaque” tinc
  • “peacock” frog
  • peacock tinc
  • tinctorius peacock

The exotic pet landscape is always shifting, but these two cases of Dendrobates tinctorius “tumucumaque” and Adelphobates galactonotus “blue” were about as clear cut of an example of illegal frogs as you can get.

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