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Knife attack victim Tracie Willis. Knife attack victim Tracie Willis.

Exotic bird traffickers suspected in attack on Sayulita environmentalist

Tracie Willis was attacked in her home by two men with knives

Illegal exotic bird traffickers are suspected in an attack on a Canadian environmentalist in Sayulita, Nayarit, on the weekend.

Tracie Lyn Willis, an activist and president of the environmental nonprofit Ser Su Voz (Be Their Voice), said she was attacked by two men with knives who rang her doorbell around 8:30pm Saturday.

She asked who was at the door but when she did not receive a response she assumed it was a friend.

When Willis opened the door, the men asked if she bought birds, then burst into her home and stabbed her in the head, abdomen and leg before fleeing the scene.

“I believe it was retaliation for defending the birds that are sold in San Ignacio, because I spoke out about the trafficking of that species,” Willis said.

The town of San Ignacio is known as a black market hub for the illegal trafficking of exotic birds.

Willis and her organization work to protect the birds’ habitats and combat the trafficking. But the attack has not deterred her from that goal, describing herself as “more motivated now.”

“If those who attacked me had been professionals, I’d be dead,” she said.

She also said that over two months ago she was threatened by a known bird trafficker from the municipality of Ruiz, for which she filed reports with the Federal Police, the environmental protection agency Profepa and the Environment Secretariat.

She filed a report with the Nayarit Attorney General’s Office for Saturday’s attack.

Canadian-born but raised in England, Willis made her way to Sayulita after being fired by a cruise line for reporting the company for dumping garbage into the ocean.

Since moving to Sayulita in 1990, she has opened a restaurant called ChocoBanana, founded a recycling organization and volunteered for projects that help protect sea turtles and land crabs, as well as parrots and other avian species.

Sources: La Jornada (sp), Sayulita Life (en)

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