The Rising Demand For Unique Pets Might Lead To Species Extinction And Pandemics

Letitia Denham

Have you ever ever fancied a tiger strutting up your driveway and into your property, a boa constrictor wrapping itself round you whilst you water the crops in your backyard, or a sugar glider snuggling into your pocket as you exit for a stroll? If proudly owning an “unique pet” is your final need, then assume twice. The unique pet commerce is a narrative of distress and horror, subjecting animals to unthinkable cruelties and placing total species’ survival to the check. The unique pet commerce also can doubtlessly declare hundreds of thousands of human lives by making us vulnerable to zoonotic illnesses with no identified remedy.  With such gory downsides, the unique pet commerce is anticipated to say no. However the actuality is simply the alternative.

What Is An Unique Pet?

The Rising Demand For Unique Pets Might Lead To Species Extinction And Pandemics
A sugar glider in a cage ready to be offered. 

Though a stringent definition of the time period is missing, it normally exempts our “same-old” cats and canine and explores a world of animals primarily discovered within the wild, and most frequently non-native species—for instance, a tiger in an American residence or a lemur in an Indian one. 

An unique pet is a wild pet and isn’t domesticated. Domestication is a selective breeding course of that takes place over hundreds of years. Snakes, parrots, iguanas, turtles, and otters are some examples of unique pets,” Dr. Mohamed Nader, a veterinarian and unlawful wildlife commerce marketing consultant from UAE, knowledgeable WorldAtlas.

The “wildness or foreignness” of the animal is what makes an “unique pet” such a craving that one is able to pay a hefty sum to get the specified animal residence. However whereas the owner-to-be waits with bated breath to catch a glimpse of the chosen one, bathe it with love and affection, and present it off to family and friends and on social media, a narrative of untold distress unfolds to ship the specified pet to the proprietor’s doorstep. 

The Painful Journey Of An Unique Pet

The unique pet commerce is a multi-million greenback trade unfold throughout the globe. Animals to be offered are both caught within the wild or bred in captivity. The dearth of a uniform regulation governing the commerce on a worldwide scale means the commerce of the animal may be authorized in a single nation and punishable within the different. Thus, with no voice of their very own, a hefty price ticket on them, and no concrete legal guidelines defending them, the animals at the moment are handled as commodities to be delivered to the shopper at any price. 

Your entire journey of an unique pet from seize to move to sale is stained with bloodshed. Cruelty reigns excessive as these animals are trapped, maimed, packed, stuffed, and bottled like non-living objects of sale, usually to keep away from detection because of the shady nature of the enterprise. The torture is simply too extreme for a lot of animals to outlive. And those who do, bear the trauma of a lifetime. Thus, extra animals than on demand are harvested from the wild to compensate for the lack of lives, additional aggravating the adversities related to the unique pet commerce.

exotic pet trade
A tiger cub smuggled in a suitcase and caught by authorities at Bangkok airport. Picture credit score: USAID Biodiversity & Forestry/Flickr.

Unique pets are sometimes shipped lengthy distances earlier than they attain their ultimate vacation spot, whether or not caught within the wild or bred in captivity on a farm. Sadly, as many as 4 out of 5 animals caught within the unlawful wildlife commerce will die in transit or inside a 12 months in captivity,” talked about Dr. Nader. 

After going by way of such agony and terror, when an unique pet in the end lands within the proprietor’s residence, it’s anticipated to be “fortunately perpetually” for the animal. Nonetheless, even this perception is much from the reality. 

Wild animals have to be with members of their very own sort. Struggling is inevitable in captivity. It limits their regular habits and endangers their psychological and bodily integrity. The unique pets usually lack enough shelter, meals, room to roam, and environmental management to maintain their our bodies on the needed temperature. Life in captivity is a world aside from life within the wild,” mentioned Dr. Nader.

The Unique Pet Commerce Goes International

Exotic pet trade
A macaw caged in a house the place it lives as a pet. Caged birds are mentioned to undergo from intense psychological stress as they’re designed by nature to fly and be free, and stay with others of their sort.

The demand for unique pets just isn’t new, however by no means earlier than has it been on the present scale. Whereas royals of the previous throughout continents had crammed up their palaces with tigers, lions, and elephants, in the present day, houses throughout America and Europe host over 5,000 – 10,000 captive tigers and hundreds of different unique species starting from macaws to chimpanzees, pythons, tarantulas, and extra. 

The demand for wild animals as pets, sourced regionally and internationally, is clearly growing. This alarming pattern is because of a number of elements. An growing variety of individuals have extra disposable earnings to spend on pets. In lots of instances, it’s modern to maintain uncommon and unique species. Additionally, in some locations, maintaining unlawful and threatened species is taken into account an emblem of social standing,” Dr. Chris Shepherd, Government Director of Monitor Analysis Conservation Society, Canada, knowledgeable WorldAtlas.

Furthermore, the commerce within the majority of species traded internationally to satisfy the demand for pets just isn’t adequately regulated. As such, a lot of the commerce is unsustainable and sometimes in violation of legal guidelines and insurance policies in supply nations,” Dr. Shepherd talked about additional.

He additionally holds the web accountable for facilitating the expansion in worldwide commerce in wildlife for pets. The web has made promoting, shopping for, promoting, fee, and so on., a lot simpler, making it harder for regulation enforcement businesses to curb the commerce.

Worse nonetheless, the unique pet commerce has now gone international. With the rise in buying energy, many growing nations are additionally now giving in to the unique pet pattern. For instance, conservationists in India are gravely involved in regards to the skyrocketing demand for unique pets within the nation. 

India is a rising supply and demand nation relating to wildlife commerce. On the one hand, unique species are being smuggled into India, and on the opposite, a number of Indian wild species are being traded outdoors India. Fortunately, the Indian authorities is within the technique of amending the Wild Life (Safety) Act, 1972, to award safety to species acknowledged beneath CITES to clamp down on the burgeoning unlawful commerce in unique animals,” mentioned Dr. Anish Andheria, President of Wildlife Conservation Belief (WCT), India, and considered one of India’s main wildlife conservationists. WCT is presently working a marketing campaign known as “Trapped In Commerce” to boost nationwide consciousness on the unique pet commerce problem.

A bunch of monkeys are on show within the wildlife commerce in East Java, Indonesia. Editorial credit score: INDONESIAPIX /

In Southeast Asia, business captive breeding of wildlife to cater to the calls for of unique pets is burgeoning. In line with Dr. Shepherd, this observe is extremely unsustainable.

Commerical captive breeding of wildlife in Southeast Asia is commonly promoted as a conservation resolution, however there are few, if any, examples of economic breeding operations benefiting wild populations. In actuality, these companies revenue the house owners, not the species, or are merely a entrance used to launder wild-caught animals into the worldwide market beneath the guise of being captive-bred,” he mentioned.  

A Ticking Time Bomb

Whereas the ill-treatment of animals is a serious concern related to the unique pet commerce, this commerce has an excellent darker aspect, as talked about by Dr. Andheria:

The unique species commerce is detrimental to biodiversity in some ways. It could actually drastically affect populations of goal species within the supply nation, pushing them to the brink of extinction. Unintended or deliberate launch of unique species can threaten the very existence of native species. For instance, the discharge of pet Burmese pythons, which may develop to over 7 meters in size and may predate upon different animals, in america has led to a droop in populations of a number of native wildlife. Unique wildlife can introduce life-threatening zoonotic illnesses in native wildlife and people, devastating the complete ecosystem. COVID-19 is a superb instance of what commerce in wild animals can do,” he mentioned.

exotic pet trade
Burmese pythons in Florida are an invasive species killing native wildlife in giant numbers. As soon as unique pets, their launch into the wilds by careless pet house owners and subsequent multiplication, has given rise to the present problem.

Dr. Andheria additionally factors out that the unlawful wildlife commerce is the world’s fourth largest unlawful commerce and is commonly carefully related with different black markets, corresponding to human trafficking, commerce in narcotics/ammunition, and counterfeiting cash.

So as to add to the above, Dr. Nader talked about the flexibility of untamed animals to assault their house owners. He considers maintaining wild animals as pets harmful as many can chunk, scratch, and assault the proprietor, their kids, or friends. Animal house owners may be legally responsible for any harm, harm, or illness brought on by the animals they hold. He additionally voiced his concern in regards to the potential of such animals to transmit life-threatening infections to people and native wildlife like rabies, tuberculosis, herpes viruses, salmonella, polio, and tuberculosis. 

Solely We Can Cease It

A pair of macaws flying within the wild with their wings unfold out vast, representing freedom.

Contemplating all of the adversities related to the commerce, a big part of wildlife conservationists and well being consultants discourage the acquisition of unique pets. Additionally they name for the general public and policymakers to assist the formulation and implementation of stricter legal guidelines and pointers to curb such commerce on a worldwide scale. CITES (Conference on Worldwide Commerce in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is one such worldwide settlement the place governments of many countries have pledged to ban or regulate commerce in threatened species. There’s additionally a necessity for higher schooling and coaching of regulation enforcement businesses to rescue the traded animals and punish the responsible. And there’s a want for highly effective campaigns just like the TrappedInTrade to boost mass consciousness among the many public.

On the finish of the day, it’s the excessive market demand that sustains the unique pet commerce. Most frequently, the top customers are animal lovers with no sick intention however with no information of the behind-the-scenes. For many who already possess such pets, Dr. Nader has some recommendation:

Wild animals shouldn’t be deserted or positioned in deplorable circumstances. Suppose the proprietor can now not take care of a wild animal; in that case, the animal ought to be despatched to a protected sanctuary or zoo. It ought to by no means be launched within the wild in order that it’s not topic to predation, hunger, or illness or add to the prevailing invasive species drawback,” he mentioned.

Thus, with all its demerits, the unique species commerce calls for our fast consideration and motion on the problem. With species racing towards extinction and human well being at stake, the federal government and folks of each nation should unite to take up this duty. We will now not afford to disregard the cry of the animals TrappedInTrade.

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