The trade in wildlife body parts and botanicals is worth tens of billions to the European luxury and fashion industry. Python skins, just one of the many exotic skins used for shoes, handbags and clothing imported into Europe each year, are worth US$1bn alone.
Given the massive profit margins and brand values of luxury goods, one might assume that the trade in these exotic skins, other wildlife body parts and botanicals is well regulated; and the supply chains are transparent and secured against laundering of illegal items into the legal marketplace. Nothing could be further from the truth.
So how much would it costs to fix the basics – implementing electronic permitting, traceability of shipments and real-time reporting? Probably as little as USD $40million. With the I Am A Cathedral Campaign Nature Needs More is calling on companies, such as Kering, LVMH and L’Oréal who benefit from the legal trade in endangered species to cover the cost of implementing the global electronic permitting system.
Can these companies afford it? Well yes, within a couple of days of the tragic Notre Dame fire in Paris (April 2019), just three of the largest luxury conglomerates – Kering, LVMH and L’Oréal – pledged a combined €500 million to the rebuilding of the cathedral. So yes, they can afford US$40million (€35.6 million).