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Posted by reuben on June 25, 2001 at 14:16:48:
In Reply to: REPTILE PET TRADE AND CONSERVATION posted by UNIVERSITY RESEARCH on February 14, 2001 at 16:44:52:
: MANY REPTILE KEEPERS THINK THEY ARE CONSERVATIONISTS.
-----Thinking and being are two different activities, it's true. However, proffessional conservationists and lobbyist should wish to foster the spirit of conservation in all citizens. I believe the keeping of pets -- especially exotic pets, directly promotes an individual's awareness of the natural sciences and concern for conservation. The actual pet keeping itself isn't technically conservation, but it is education toward conservation, far more so than for people keeping cats, dogs, or even livestock.
IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES, MOST SPECIES WHEN FIRST OBTAINED IN THE WILD HAD TO BE COLLECTED (AND DIED OFF) IN LARGE NUMBERS BEFORE SUCCESSFULLY KEPT IN CAPTIVITY (THIS IS WELL DOCUMENTED). WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS?
------Assuming that's true (and I don't assume that's true) past sins cannot be undone, but they can be turned into tomorrow's virtues. Most reptile pet owners keep animals from captive bred populations. The growth of this pet industry is helping to make wild collection obsolete. Enthusiasts may hunt snakes to find them in their natural environment, but for serious collectors, there is little value in wild caught animals. However, the above is largely variable depending on species. Further research could help to determine which species (e.g. Asian snakes) are marketed via wild caught animals and which (e.g. cornsnakes) are prefferred as captive bred. Following this research, one could constructively target species worth breeding in an effort to cut off hunting. Attacking the hobby as a whole, I think, is misguided given it's educational value.
: MANY SPECIES HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE DWINDELLING IN NUMBERS IN LARGE PART DO TO THE CAPTURE OF THESE ANIMALS FOR THE PET TRADE (WILD CAUGHT PURCHASE FROM IMPORTERS). HOW CAN ONE JUSTIFY DOING THIS TO THE REPTILES THEY CLAIM TO LOVE?
------Again, most purchasers either prefer captive bred snakes or are indifferent. Few are there who would insist on a wild caught specimen unless none other were available. In the latter case conservationists should try to encourage breeding that species to stem further poaching. And what did Sting say? "if you love somebody, set them free." Not all married couples would agree to that, I suggest leaving love out of the discussion (it is hard afterall to love a snake) and focus more on recognizing the growing market and providing for it; knowing that in principle those involved are open to ecological concerns.
: ALSO, SINCE THE MAJORITY OF KEEPERS ARE NOT PARTICIPATING IN BREED AND RELEASE PROGRAMS, HOW CAN ONE STILL BE CALLED A CONSERVATIONIST IN THIS RESPECT?
-----Again, we keepers are not conservationists. We are lawyers and doctors and mechanics and nurses who, through our hobby, have opened our minds to the wonders of nature. If a conservationist group every wants to get a bill through, they're going to need our support,and they'll get it because of our affinity to nature. Our hobby does not damage nature any more than watering our lawns, driving our cars, or eating beef grown on ranches where rain-forests used to be. Man and modernity are at odds with the world it would seem. Be that as it may, one important way to generated empathy for the planet is allowing-- even encouraging-- people to enjoy it in the comfort of their airconditioned livingrooms and helping them to do so at a minimum level of injury to the natural surroundings.
: PLEASE TRY TO BE CRITICAL OR YOURSELF AND OTHERS WHILE ANSWERING
I started as a kid grabing garter snakes out of the woods in camp. That led to several independant biology projects throughout highschool, and led to my working in university labs with both herpetologists and ecologists. For some reason I'm still not sure of, I left biology and became an architect. But my hobby has kept me in touch with naturalists, be it on the internet or at a local natural history museum I help support. I think the bottom line is that the hobby of maintaining exotic animals is extremely educational and should not be underesimated.
Good luck with your research.
: NO DISRESPECT IS MEANT.
: IT NEEDS TO BE STRESSED THAT NEITHER SIDE OF THE ISSUE IS MEANT TO BE FAVORED, OPINIONS ARE NEEDED EITHER WAY.
: THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!