Trading in Extinction: Is Pet Trade Killing off Animal Species? PDF Print E-mail

By Alice Katherine Hughes

The Wire

Global biodiversity loss doesn’t just result from the destruction of habitats, or even hunting species for meat. Huge number of species are threatened by trade – both alive as pets or exhibits, or dead for use in medicines.

Though people have become increasingly aware of the threat posed by the trade of high-value species, such as the elephant for ivory, and various animals such as tigers, rhinos and the pangolin for medicine, few realise the risk that the pet trade poses to the future survival of many less well-known species.

On visiting a zoo or pet shop, you may expect that the reptiles and amphibians on show are bred in captivity, but many of these animals may have been imported live. In fact, 92% of the 500,000 live animal shipments between 2000-2006 to the US (that’s 1,480,000,000 animals) were for the pet trade, and 69% of these originated in Southeast Asia.

These exports, majority from tropical countries, are increasing annually. And without careful regulation, this trade may be disastrous for many species.

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