By Amelie Bottollier-Depois
Poisonous frogs, long-necked turtles, bears and chimpanzees may not be everyone’s idea of an animal companion, but experts warn that demand for exotic pets is pushing some species closer to extinction.
With high price tags luring criminal gangs, conservationists are calling for increased efforts to crack down on the illegal trade, fueled by the demands of collectors in Europe, the United States and Asia.
“The demand for wild animals as pets is increasing and involves a wider range of species than ever before, and as a result the list of species threatened by trade is longer than ever,” said Chris Sheperd of wildlife group Traffic.
As part of efforts to reverse the trend, the 178-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) stepped up protection for dozens of types of turtles and tortoises at a meeting that ended Thursday in Bangkok.
They are far from the only victims of this trade. Spiders, snakes, scorpions, beetles, exotic birds, big cats – wildlife protection campaigners have seen it all.
More species are involved in the pet trade than in meat and medicine, including highly venomous snakes and even cassowaries – large flightless birds from Papua New Guinea and Australia that can kick and kill you, Shepherd said.
“I don’t understand the desire to keep an animal that can kill you, but people do,” he said. More....