WILDLIFE TRADE

PLUNDERED SOUTH AFRICA’S COLDBLOODED INTERNATIONAL REPTILE TRADE

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT AUGUST 2020

“Although exotic pets are technically alive, in terms of conservation they might as well be dead. Removed from nature, they no longer play any meaningful role for their species or ecosystem.”

– Rachel Love Nuwer

INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT

Ban Animal Trading (BAT) and the EMS Foundation (EMS) have, over a number of years, been collecting information, doing fieldwork, undertaking research and analysing data on South Africa’s international and so-called ‘legal’ trade in live wild animals.

This report― ‘Plundered: South Africa’s cold-blooded international reptile trade’―is the third in The Extinction Business Series. The two previous reports examined South Africa’s lion bone trade1 and South Africa’s live wildlife trade with China. Both reports discuss in full how loopholes and ineffectual controls in the permit system, which includes CITES, are enabling international laundering and smuggling of live wildlife. The same applies to the global trade in live reptiles and amphibians, which is discussed below.

The international trade in the majority of reptiles, amphibians and arachnids is mostly unregulated, often unlawful and a growing industry in South Africa. Data on the trade in these species is unreliable and insufficient, because most countries do not keep records or compile data unless the species is listed on the CITES Appendices. Even then the data is incomplete. One reason for this is that, unlike so-called charismatic species such as lions, elephants, tigers and primates―perceived to have higher intrinsic value―reptiles, including species such as snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, alligators and crocodiles are, in terms of public perception, and often because of the negative stereotypes attached to them, considered less desirable creatures, lack the charismatic appeal of anthropomorphic species and consequently they are afforded less attention.

Reptiles also lack the repertoire of facial expressions and vocalizations that would alert keepers to their pain and distress. A sick, hurt, or chronically stressed reptile will suffer in silence. The suffering will often be far more prolonged than that experienced by mammals, due to reptiles’ slow metabolic rate. Blood loss and the healing of injuries are both relatively slow, as are the consequent risk of infection and further complications. Reptiles are among the most inhumanely treated animals in the pet trade. Because they often are cheap and easily replaceable, dealers, captive breeders, and retailers factor huge mortality into their operating costs.

PLEASE FIND THE FULL REPORT HERE:

THE EXTINCTION BUSINESS REPORT SERIES

Plundered: South Africa’s Cold-Blooded International Reptile Trade is Part 3 in the Ban Animal Trading an EMS Foundation, The Extinction Business Investigative Report Series. The purpose of this Series is to examine South Africa’s international wildlife trade.
South Africa’s Lion Bone Trade (2018) was Part 1 of the Series and can be found here: https://emsfoundation.org.za/wp-content/uploads/THE-EXTINCTION-BUSINESS-South-Africas-lion- bone-trade.pdf & https://bananimaltrading.org/attachments/article/209/The%20Extinction%20Business.pdf

Breaking Point: Uncovering South Africa’s Shameful Live Wildlife Trade with China (June 2020) was Part 2 of the Series and can be found here: https://emsfoundation.org.za/wp-content/uploads/BreakingPoint__FINAL_15052020_web.pdf & https://bananimaltrading.org/attachments/article/209/BreakingPoint__FINAL_15052020_web.pdf

LEGAL DISCLAIMER
The mention of any individual, company, organisation, or other entity in this report does not imply the violation of any law or international agreement, and should not be construed as such.

© 2020 Ban Animal Trading and EMS Foundation. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing.

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CALL TO THE G20 TO SUPPORT A BAN ON THE INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE TRADE AND AN IMMEDIATE PERMANENT CLOSURE OF WILD ANIMAL MARKETS

3RD AUGUST 2020

THE EMS FOUNDATION AND THE WORLD ANIMAL PROTECTION ORGANISATION ADDRESS A PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, HIS EXCELLENCY CYRIL RAMAPHOSA, MEMBER OF THE G20 AND CHAIRPERSON OF THE AFRICAN UNION

We, the EMS Foundation and the World Animal Protection – Africa, with the endorsement of the undersigned African organisations, request President Cyril Ramaphosa―as a member of the G20 and as Chairman of the African Union―to support a G20 ban on international wildlife trade and an immediate and permanent closure of wild animal markets.

Scientists agree that a genomic comparison suggests that the SARS-Cov-2 or COVID_19 pandemic is the result of a recombination between two different viruses, meaning that the exact origin of the virus is unclear.

In December 2019, 27 of the first 41 people
hospitalized with the virus passed through a food market located in the heart of Wuhan city in Hubei Province in China. The vendors at this market brought a variety of live wild animals together for purchase, slaughter and consumption. The scientists are still not sure in which animal species the virus occurred, bats and pangolins could both have been the reservoir for the virus.

The COVID_19 pandemic has overwhelmed health systems and economies across the world. The crisis is still affecting the global economic structure in ways that will last for decades to come.

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of physical access to key sources of goods production. More activity will become virtual and therefore global but at the same time the production of physical goods will become national.

All available evidence for COVID_19 suggests that SARS-CoV-2 has a zoonotic source. Since there is usually limited close contact between human and bats, it is more likely that transmission of the virus to humans happened through another species, on that is more likely to be handled by humans.

READ THE FULL LETTER:

This petition is authored and signed by:

Tennyson Williams – Director – World Animal Protection, Africa and Michele Pickover – Director – EMS Foundation

This petition is supported by the following organisations:

Ban Animal Trading – South Africa – Smaragda Louw

Four Paws Animal Welfare Foundation – South Africa – Fiona Miles

Humane Society International – Africa – Tony Gerrans

Future 4 Wildlife – South Africa – Stefania Falcon

Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – South Africa – Megan Carr

Animal Law Reform South Africa – Amy P. Wilson

Baboon Matters – Jenni Trethowan

Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa – Toni Brockhoven

Centre for Animal Rehab and Education – South Africa – Samantha Dewhirst

South Peninsula Customary Khoisan Council – South Africa – Stephen Fritz

Global White Lion Protection Trust – South Africa – Linda Tucker

Institute for Critical Animal Studies Africa – Les Mitchell

Monkey Helpline – South Africa – Steve Smit

Outraged South African Citizens Against Poaching – Kim Da Ribeira

Sea Shepherd South Africa – Prathna Singh

Southern African Fight for Rhinos – Lex Abnett

Vervet Monkey Foundation – South Africa – Dave Du Toit

WildAid Southern Africa – Guy Jennings

African Climate Alliance – South Africa – Said Irux

GFG Environmental Education – South Africa – Jabu Myeni

Parliament for the People, Regenerative Farming and Climate Justice in South Africa – Vivien Law

Youth Climate Group – South Africa – Sera Farista

Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute – Francesca De Gasparis

Coalition of African Animal Welfare Organisations – South Africa – Rehad Desai

Extinction Rebellion South Africa – Anita Khanna

Panthera Africa – South Africa – Catherine Nyquist and Lizaene Cornwall

Dr Brett Bard – Veterinarian, South Africa

South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public and Human Rights International Law – South Africa – Professor David Bilchitz

Advocates 4 Earth – Green Law Connect, Zimbabwe – Lenin Chisaira

Zimbabwe Elephant Foundation – Nomusa Dube

Elephant Human Relationship Aid, Namibia – Rachel Harris

Dr Ross Harvey – Environmental Economist, Botswana

Hands-Off Fernkloof, South Africa – Peter Hodgskin

Mutare SPCA, Zimbabwe – Lynne James

WildlfeDirect, Kenya – Dr Paula Kahumbu

Lawyers for Animal Protection in Africa – Jmi Karani

Conservation Kenya – Dr Winnie Kiiru

Africa Network for Animal Welfare, Kenya – Kahindi Lekalhaile

Giorgio Lombardi – Vogelgat Nature Reserve – South Africa

Advocate 4 Earth, Zimbabwe – Linda Masudze

Bring the Elephant Home – South Africa – Antoinette van de Water

Professor Dan Wylie – Rhodes University – South Africa

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved.

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THE FUTURE OF CONSERVATION STARTS WITH WILDLIFE TRADE BANS

WRITTEN BY: Jared Kukura

The Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS) released a statement opposing a ban on wildlife trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. ICCS advocates for better regulation of wildlife trade in the hope of benefitting people and wildlife.

There are four main objectives in the ICCS’s statement, three of which should be supported by every organisation.

  1. Prevention of illegal, unsustainable, unhygienic and high-stress use of domestic and wild animal species.
  2. Support of well-regulated, sustainable and cruelty-free trade in wildlife, based on evidence that a particular trade is helping to protect wildlife and their habitats against threats whilst meeting livelihoods and food security needs.
  3. Limitation of destruction of natural ecosystems for agriculture, mining, infrastructure development and urbanisation, working towards halting further loss and restoring nature.
  4. Better management of industrial agriculture, to prevent disease outbreaks in humans and livestock, animal welfare issues, pollution of the land and watercourses, and antibiotic resistance.

But the second objective is a missed opportunity to protect wildlife. The ICCS states conservation efforts need to conform to livelihood and food security needs. However, at this stage in the human game, the opposite is needed. Livelihood and food security needs must be met through alternative avenues and must conform to conservation efforts if we wish to protect wildlife.

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NOW IS THE TIME TO BAN THE WILDLIFE TRADE

WRITTEN BY: Jared Kukura

The current public health crisis is forcing global leaders to reflect on what went wrong and what can be done to prevent future pandemics. Evidence suggests wildlife trade is responsible for the COVID-19 outbreak. But the question remains, what is the best path forward?

Sustainable use advocates warn of potential unintended consequences if wildlife trade is banned. The industry simply needs better regulations from their point of view. However, the notion better regulations can curb the negative effects of wildlife trade is a fallacy. Banning wildlife trade is the only realistic way to protect wildlife and our own species.

Wildlife has diminished around the globe, partly, because of legal and regulated trade. In China, bear bile farming was promoted in the 1980s as a sustainable way to exploit bears while creating a buffer to protect wild populations from poaching. But after decades of trade, China’s wild bear populations are decreasing while the number of bears caged and tortured are increasing. Research shows farmed bear bile has little effect on reducing poaching and may increase the demand for wild bear bile due to consumer preference.

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