TED Fellows » TED Fellows Network » Juliana Machado Ferreira

Juliana Machado Ferreira

Forensic biologist

Juliana Machado Ferreira

Professional Role

Current Titles:

Biologist: Doctor in Biology/Genetics, volunteer for SOS Fauna, founder member and executive director of FREELAND Brasil.

Current Organizations:

SOS Fauna, FREELAND Brasil, University of Sao Paulo


Seizure of trafficked wildlife in Brazil

This video shows how wildlife is trafficked in Brazil to supply the pet market. It begins with a seizure of a truck which was carrying almost 4.000 individuals. Once these cargos reach their destinies, they are divided and sent to deposits. The animals are then sold in open air fairs that happen weekly. The next part of the footage is a seizure in one of those fairs. The faces of the police officers are not shown for safety reasons. The dealers never bring all the animals to the fairs, so the next step is finding the deposits - cars and houses - in the surroundings. Finally finish the final consumer, who has no idea that he is the one supporting the illegal trade and threatening species and ecosystems. Soundtrack: Evanescence

View video on Youtube »

Going home: releasing parrots back in the wild.mov

This video shows a little bit of the story of a group of blue-fronted amazons that were seized by the police from wildlife traffickers, rehabilitated by the NGO SOS FAUNA, and released on august 28, 2012, in a technically responsible way. Although we are happy that they are going home, this is not ideal as they never should have left the wild. This happens because people still want to by wild animals to be their pets. A documentary called "Now what?!" ("E agora?") about wildlife trafficking in Brazil is being produced by ID AV.

View video on Youtube »


Brazilian Independent Wildlife Forensic Genetics Laboratoy
? – present
Crimes involving wildlife in Brazil many times lack forensic evidence due to the absence of research needed to provide scientific knowledge, the lack of accredited laboratories, or even lack of personnel, time and resources. Brazil will greatly benefit from the creation of a not-for-profit, independent wildlife forensic genetics laboratory, which will be accredited and provide very low cost, state of the art impartial scientific data to the processes involving wildlife, and can be scaled up in the future to encompass other areas, such as chemistry, and others. This laboratory will work on the excess demand that the existing police crime labs are not able to fulfill, and will work in collaboration with environmental agencies to perform analyzes such as determining if a crime was actually committed or not, for example, if a product was manufactured with a protected species or not. Currently, FREELAND Brasil, an independent but sister organization of FREELAND Foundation (freeland.org), which aims at combating illegal wildlife and human trafficking, is being established in Brazil. FREELAND Brasil will house the Brazilian Independent Wildlife Forensics Laboratory project during the set up and implementation phase, after what it will acquire the status of a completely independent not-for-profit entity. We are currently on the process of preparing detailed budgets and financial plans, after what we will look for partners.

Release of 62 rehabilitated blue-fronted amazons that were seized from the illegal trade
02/27/2006 – present
In 2006 a group of blue-fronted amazons with no more than a few weeks old was seized from traffickers by the police. Some of those were sent to SOS fauna and were fully rehabilitated. Investigative efforts found out the exact origin of the group, where we currently set up a beautiful releasing site. All the infra-structure is ready and we are missing the last few details to finish this amazing enterprise. These 62 beautiful animals deserve their freedom in nature, they already served too long in jail. If you would like to be a part of this effort, let us know!
Project Website »

Release of 1800 peruvian canaries seized in Brazil back in Peru - a first time in history!
01/14/2012 – present
Last january over 1800 peruvian canaries were seized in Brazil, a situation that has been happening regularly for many years now. Because this is a different subspecies from the Brazilian, they cannot be released in our country, so Brazilian authorities either euthanize or send the animals to captivity for life. SOS Fauna started a major international collaboration with Peruvian authorities to send the 1800 animais back to be released where they belong, to get a second chance. The animals are rehabilitated and we are currently working out the export permits. But there is still so much to be done! Feel free to contact us if you would like to be a part in this first in south american history initiative!

Investigative group against wildlife trafficking
? – present
SOS Fauna (sosfauna.org) has been developing investigative work with the Brazilian police against wildlife trafficking for many years. But now we want to take this support to a whole new level. FREELAND Brasil (freelandbrasil.org.br), which is a new organization in Brazil, independent from but sister of FREELAND Foundation (freeland.org), is collaborating with SOS Fauna to replicate the incredible investigation group FREELAND foundation set up with the Thai police, and was even featured in Nat Geo´s "Crimes Against Nature".

Where do seized birds come from? An approach with molecular markers
02/12/2008 – 05/12/2012
The idea behind this project was to develope molecular markers to brazilian bird species threatened by wildlife trafficking, collect blood samples from individuals throughout the species' distribution and perform population genetics studies to understand how the genetic diversity is distributed in each species. Using these data we were able to discover a trend - all the birds tested of one of the species used in this study were assigned to the same population. This is very relevant data both to prevention and investigation but to the correct releasing of seized individuals.


I am a biologist, passionate about fighting wildlife trafficking in Brazil and about wildlife forensics, the use of science to provide data concerning crimes involving wildlife, to be used in the legal process. I have been learning about wildlife forensics since 2005, volunteering and developing research in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife National Forensics Laboratory, having spent a total of 15 months there. I also have been developing an in-depth understanding of wildlife trafficking in Brazil volunteering for the NGO SOS Fauna (sosfauna.org) since 2006. My PhD project (to be finished in August 2012) involves the development of polymorphic loci and the inference of population genetic structure of bird species threated by the illegal trade, aiming at providing insights to the releasing efforts of the rehabilitated animals. I am currently in the process of establishing FREELAND Brasil, a not-for-profit and independent sister organization of FREELAND Foundation (freeland.org). FREELAND Brasil will work against wildlife trafficking in Brazil through direct actions in investigation, education and research. It will also incubate and help the development of an independent wildlife forensic genetics laboratory. Apart from saving the world (!!), I love to practice Yôga, which was introduced to me by the DeRose Method (www.derosemethod.us/) and I am an avid swimmer. I have just recently taken up running, so I am still learning and getting used to it. But I am definitely much better in the water.

Fun facts

Favorite meal:
rice, black beans (Brazilian style), banana, salad and fresh squeezed orange juice. A big chocolate desert. Espresso. Voilá.

A funny story about me:
I was in a raid with SOS Fauna and the police looking for animal deposits where wildlife traffickers stock animals prior to selling and also looking for illegally owned animals. We came across a house and we could see and hear many birds inside the garage, but it was locked. The lead investigator asked me if I wanted to kick the door down. Heck yeah! This is how they called me Dr Foot on the Door...

Vital Stats

Fellows Class
2010 TED Senior Fellow
Portuguese (Brazil)
Living in
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Working in
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Born in
Sao Paulo, Brazil



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