Authorities in Colombia have rescued an endangered sloth which they believe was about to be sold on the black market.
The mammal, which is close to extinction, was rescued near the city of Buenaventura, in the western Colombian department of Valle del Cauca.
The infantry of the Marina reported how they received a call from a local resident who informed them of some strangers in the area who had with them a sloth which they planned to sell on the black market.
Thanks to this information they were able to rescue the animal during a security control on the motorway that connects Buenaventura with the city of Cali.
A video shared on their social media page shows the officers releasing the sloth back into the wild. The images show the animal slowly climbing up a tree as its rescuers look on.
Sloths live in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America and are incredibly well adapted to this habitat, although they cannot thrive outside it.
According to a report on animal trading, wild animals such as sloths, snakes and birds are usually caught by local peasants and sold to distributors on the black market who have previously received an order to buy one. However according to the report by Colombian authorities, due to the poor conditions they are kept or sent in, only one out of ten animals reaches their destination alive.
According to the WWF: "Sloths have an exceptionally low metabolic rate and spend 15 to 20 hours per day sleeping. And surprisingly enough, the long-armed animals are excellent swimmers. They occasionally drop from their treetop perches into water for a paddle.
There are two different types of sloths, two-toed and three-toed, and six species. Of those, the pygmy sloth is critically endangered and the maned sloth is vulnerable."