South Africa’s reptiles face danger. Sadly, the reckless harvesting of reptiles in the wild seems rampant. Moreover, these creatures trade as pets, leather and food. Furthermore, the current Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulations do not differentiate between reptiles bred for export or captured in the wild.
South Africa’s reptiles threatened
Importantly, a UNEP report indicates known and new emerging illnesses seem zoonotic. Moreover, COVID-19 resulted from one such zoonotic virus. Disturbingly, according to an article on EMS Foundation website, CITES sidesteps the issue of reptile regulation. They said they “…do not have the competence to comment on the link between wildlife consumption and zoonotic diseases.”
Meanwhile, South Africa’s reptile exports continue with little reaction from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries’ (DEFF). Importantly, an article written in September in Nature explores the horrific number of species traded online. Internationally, an uptick in the trade indicates more than a South African problem. However, the political will for investigating the issue appears dismal.
Zoonotic diseases possibly increase
Sadly, South Africa’s reptiles remains under threat. Clearly, international assistance is not forthcoming. Importantly, every South African must work to save our heritage. Tragically, COVID-19 appears to have failed as a warning to humans around the zoonotic diseases.
Traditionally, western zoos are places of education and research. Recently, footage of a dead lion floating in a pool of water in China signifies levels of neglect society will not tolerate in the west.
Importantly, an article in Conservation SA says, “There is no definition within CITES documentation of what constitutes a zoo. [Meanwhile,] the zoo community … defend the decision that any Z classified shipment (for zoo purposes) is automatically considered for “education, conservation and research”. Unfortunately, too many zoos in the east are nothing of the kind. Sadly, exporters abuse the Z classification to the detriment of South Africa’s reptiles.
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