|Value of Trade:
||Worth about $150 million annually
|Benefit to the Local
|The annual earnings of local communities for harvesting crocodile eggs for farms amounts to 0.33% of the estimated value of the annual trade
|Funds Generated by/for Regulation/Monitoring:
||Then when you look at money for regulation and monitoring, then the industry contribution can be as low as
0.00044% of the value of the shipment.
Business and industries are making effectively no contribution to monitoring the trade and this is why Australia may have good laws on paper, but there are no resources to enact them to protect Australian wildlife. This situation has gone on for decades, unquestioned by corporate conservation. I’m not quite seeing the equitable benefit-sharing conservation talks about, even in the example that sustainable-use advocates constantly hold up as the poster child of sustainable-use.
In concluding, I must point to the fact that Roe’s article uses one of the patronising patterns many corporate conservation agencies use when responding to people concerns; stating: “that efforts to reduce the loss of wild species by advocating for their use is counter-intuitive for some people.”
In response, I have to say, I find it counter-intuitive that people employed in these agencies/specialist groups appear to have no understanding of the business and commercial nature of the trade in endangered species. The article points to this lack of critical knowledge when it states: “that to understand sustainable use they need to “ensure there is sound knowledge of the species’ biology and its ecological function”. It does not mention that to complete the understanding there must also be sound knowledge of supply, demand and (legal and illegal) trade data and their impact on the actual (not theoretical) sustainability of the ‘use’.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shown clearly that the poorly regulated and basically unmonitored legal wildlife trade poses danger to humans and not just to animals. In response IUCN SULi yet again wheeled out the same old one-trick pony, Australian crocodile farms, to ‘prove’ everything is fine and we should go back to ‘normal’, i.e. sticking our collective heads in the sand while wildlife is traded into extinction.
If we rather want to see decisive change and protect ourselves from future zoonotic diseases, then the wildlife trade needs to at a minimum be modernised to be transparent. The latter starts with using electronic permits, traceability from source to destination, industry contributing to the cost of regulation and monitoring and ends with fully incorporating the Precautionary Principle into CITES by moving to a whitelisting model for trade (like we use for pharmaceuticals).
To those who want the legal trade to continue: make it transparent, manage it effectively and decisively prove it works for the natural world and not only for poverty alleviation.