The Misguided ‘Once In A Generation’ Mindset

By |2024-05-10T12:07:19+10:00May 10th, 2024|Blog|

Anyone reading about Australia’s bungled Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) reform will no doubt have seen the well-worn phrase ‘once in a generation’. The EPBC Act is stated to be Australia’s central piece of national environmental law, covering the Commonwealth’s role in environmental protection matters of national significance. After a scathing statutory review of the EPBC Act’s effectiveness, undertaken in 2019/20, Australia supposedly has a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to ensure the country’s environment laws are working and this ‘once in a generation’ reform can’t be rushed. This ‘once in a generation’ statement is music to the ears of the stakeholders who want to maintain the status quo. They can lobby hard to [...]

We’re Oceans Away From Saving Nemo

By |2024-05-03T11:31:54+10:00May 2nd, 2024|Blog|

In this third article investigating Australia's role in the exotic pet trade, Dr Cameron Murray takes a dive into how Australia supplies the aquarium trade. To read the investigation in full:     Article 1: Petted To Death, introduces Australia’s little known contribution to the extinction crisis. Article 2: Australia’s Exotic Pet Trade Is Both Surprising And Rising, discusses the blurred boundaries between the legal, legalish and illegal trade. In this third article, exploring Australia’s role in both the legal and illegal exotic pet trade, I head to the ocean and under the waves; diving into the back story of the world of Nemo. Those that have seen the original film will remember how the famous clown fish [...]

Fact-Check: Not Just One Bad Apple

By |2024-04-29T20:43:03+10:00April 28th, 2024|Blog|

This week saw Nancy González, a Colombian designer whose customers are the likes of Victoria Beckham and whose products have been featured in The Devil Wears Prada, receive an 18-month prison sentence in the USA for smuggling.  The maximum sentence available for González for illegally importing designer handbags made from caiman and python skin was 25 years. The indictment charged Gonzalez, her company Gzuniga Ltd and two employees with one count of conspiracy and two counts of illegally importing reptile skin handbags between February 2016 to April 2019. Gzuniga was ordered to forfeit all handbags and other previously seized product and banned for three years from any activities involving commercial trade in wildlife. The indictment detailed that the [...]

Keep It Simple Stupid: ASYCUDA eCITES v Blockchain

By |2024-04-10T06:59:44+10:00April 9th, 2024|Blog|

For World Wildlife Day, 2024, CITES hosted an event with the theme, “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation". The event profiled some of the latest applications of digital technologies in wildlife conservation and ecosystems mapping and monitoring. Just over an hour into the event, Ivonne Higuero, CITES Secretary-General, introduced the ASYCUDA eCITES system, saying, “In our next segment we are going to look into the future. I would like to introduce you to yet another one of CITES digital efforts. The electronic CITES permitting system or eCITES. Something close to my heart. When I started working with CITES some six years ago, I thought we need to move into the future, and [...]

Can Python Pizza Help Justify Python Handbags? Simple Answer: No

By |2024-03-26T07:31:35+11:00March 24th, 2024|Blog|

In 2019, I attended CITES CoP18 in Geneva, two weeks of watching how decisions are made about which endangered and exotic species can be legally traded. During the mid-conference break, my colleagues and I took the 4-hour drive to Milan, to take a look at what was on sale in one of the top fashion destinations in the world. After seafood, fashion and furniture are the are the two biggest users of wild species. The first thing we noted from Milan’s luxury retail sector was how difficult it was to pass a store that didn’t contain fur, exotic leathers or feathers. Posing as a customer who wanted to take something ‘special’ back to Australia from her Italian holiday [...]

Australia’s Exotic Pet Trade Is Both Surprising And Rising

By |2024-02-25T15:00:27+11:00February 25th, 2024|Blog|

So how does Australia contribute to the global Exotic Pet Trade (EPT)? The scale of it is surprising, apparently rising and happens in legal and illegal ways. On top of this, it seems a level of naivety has in the past contributed to Australia’s involvement.  As such I will look at this in three categories – Australia’s 1. LEGAL 2. LEGALISH and 3. ILLEGAL contributions to the EPT. As discussed in my last blog, Petted To Death, many would assume that Australia’s commitment to CITES and our own comparatively strict environmental legislation through the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) would mean that any LEGAL contribution to a global EPT would be as good as non-existent. [...]

The Long Read: The Traders, The Traffickers And The Torturers

By |2024-02-06T10:11:05+11:00February 5th, 2024|Blog|

The 2023 BBC investigation, The Monkey Haters, which exposed the torture of baby macaques for the online viewing pleasure of sadistic people worldwide, provides a window on a world which profits from a trade in wild species and its light-touch regulation. The legal wildlife trade has been called one of the most lucrative trades in the world, yet most trade has no regulation at all. Only for around 40,000 species is trade regulated, on paper at least. But with the CITES trade permit processes stuck in the 1970s, the reality is this trade is managed with the technological equivalent of the 3M Post-It Note launched in 1977 (CITES launched in 1975). CITES trade regulation can’t cope with a [...]

Could This Sound The Needed Death Knell On The Legal Horn Debate?

By |2024-01-12T10:18:58+11:00January 12th, 2024|Blog|

In the final days of 2023, a tip-off to the South African Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation resulted in a 16-hour raid on Derek Lewitton’s South African ranch. Twenty-six rhino carcasses were located during the raid and it was suggested by officers that there could be more, “From the helicopter the place looked like a slaughterhouse,” Provincial Commissioner of Police Major General Jan Scheepers told ABC News when describing the scene. “Everywhere you looked, rhinos were lying there dead”. South African authorities must be informed about the death of a rhino, even if it dies of natural causes. Rhino horn was also found at the property without the necessary government documentation. Lewitton’s website, Black Rock Rhino Conservation, says, [...]

Petted To Death – Australia’s Little Known Contribution To The Extinction Crisis

By |2023-12-13T13:06:35+11:00December 13th, 2023|Blog|

Surely Australia doesn’t really have any involvement in a trade of wildlife to the rest of the world for purposes of pet ownership, does it? Pet ownership couldn’t really be a significant driver of the biodiversity loss across the globe, could it? This is my first blog for Nature Needs More having become a director nearly one year ago. I have had a long interest in the wildlife trade centred around rhino conservation and the issues associated with the trade of rhino horn. My interest and knowledge on the wider issues of the wildlife trade, both legal and illegal, grew from there and, as a veterinarian, a natural extension of this was to delve into the subject of [...]

You Can’t Make a Silk Purse Out Of A Sow’s Ear

By |2023-12-05T10:30:33+11:00December 5th, 2023|Blog|

One of the key arguments used for not moving to a reverse-listing (positive-listing, white-listing) regulatory system for the trade in wild species is that CITES already has a mechanism for implementing the precautionary principle - the Non-Detriment Findings (NDFs). In theory, the convention directs signatory counties to only issue export permits for Appendix I and II listed species when the national Scientific Authority of the State of export has advised that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of the species. Yet, as with the CITES regulator more broadly, ample evidence has been provided over the years that NDFs are unfit-for-purpose. The concerns about the quality and trustworthiness of NDFs are completely justifiable, given the lack [...]

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