Homo sapiens; a species that has always expressed a fascination with other species and the aesthetic beauty of animals. Whether it’s handbag dogs, brightly coloured fowl or the skin colouration of snakes, our obsession is often driven by our own needs (or wants) rather than the welfare of the animal. The welfare of domestic species is of great concern (and one I will return to elsewhere) but, what impact is this obsession having on wild species? A depressing google search revealed the scale of the problem; meerkats, small primates, hedgehogs, racoon dogs and sugar gliders, all readily available with little legislation and little or incorrect guidance about captive care. Growing up, the problem was evident when we discovered red eared terrapins in our local lake, we named them Raphael making reference to their red headwear- it was not until years later I would discover they were far from cool. Volunteering at an exotic animal sanctuary I soon discovered that much larger and dangerous snapping turtles had received the same fate - dumped into a local pond after they were no longer required or their captive needs could no longer be met. Sanctuaries and charities are at bursting point as captive reared stock continues to be bred.
The devastation of wildlife trade extends further with wild populations of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals being decimated for the pet trade (often illegally). A lizard taken from the wild in Madagascar can be sold for $1 in the country and over $100 at point of sale, but what’s the real cost? The pangolin, an animal that really does not do much in captivity is now widely considered the world’s most trafficked mammal (Kelly, 2015). Unfortunately the trade in wildlife is not only fuelled by what we want to stare at, but it’s fuelled by what we wear, what we eat and what we believe regarding medicinal properties of animals.
Our own species (like all others), rely on a healthy ecosystem and we are at a point in time when the long term future of our existence is being jeopardized by our own actions.
Homo sapiens; a species that has always expressed a fascination with other species and the aesthetic beauty of animals, yet is largely failing to save them.
An article by Stuart Collier