Under-regulated pet trade leaves thousands of species vulnerable

September 29, 2020

More reptiles are kept as pets than you might expect. In 2008, the British Federation for Herpetologists reported that reptiles outnumbered dogs as the top pet in the UK, with an estimated eight million in captivity. Yet, unlike dogs, many of these animals are not bred in captivity, and international regulations on trade only apply to 9% of the over 11,000 known reptile species.

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers from Thailand's Suranaree University of Technology and the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) revealed a worrying situation where a huge number of reptile species are being exploited, with little international regulation, implying a lack of reliable a priori estimates of the impact on wild populations.

The researchers expanded upon data from existing trade databases with an online webscrape of reptile retailers to conduct a global assessment of the reptile trade. They generated a dataset on the web-based private commercial trade in reptiles to highlight the scope of the global reptile trade.

They revealed global trade dynamics by mapping the origin of traded species, exploring the endangerment status of species, and reporting the extent of wild capture.

"Based on two international trade databases and information scraped from 24,000 web pages in five languages, we found that over 36% of reptile species are in trade - totaling almost 4,000 species," said Dr. Alice Hughes of XTBG.

The researchers further found that about three-quarters of reptile species being traded are not covered by international trade regulations, and many of these are endangered or range-restricted species, especially from hotspots within Asia.

Most noticeably, 90% of traded reptile species and half of traded individuals are captured from the wild.

The researchers proposed shifting the burden of proof to make sure trade is sustainable before allowing these fascinating species to be traded. They also called for better approaches to the pet trade, where low financial value is unlikely to raise sufficient attention to uplist relevant species to a formal appendix to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

"If we fail to mitigate the impacts of unregulated, but legal trade, small-ranged and endemic species may be the next victims of the ongoing biodiversity crisis," said Dr. Alice Hughes.
-end-


Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

Related Species Articles from Brightsurf:

A new species of spider
During a research stay in the highlands of Colombia conducted as part of her doctorate, Charlotte Hopfe, PhD student at the University of Bayreuth, has discovered and zoologically described a new species of spider.

Two new species of parasite discovered in crabs -- discovery will help prevent infection of other marine species
Two new species of parasite, previously unknown to science, have been discovered in crabs in Swansea Bay, Wales, during a study on disease in the Celtic and Irish Seas.

Marine species are outpacing terrestrial species in the race against global warming
Global warming is causing species to search for more temperate environments in which to migrate to, but it is marine species -- according to the latest results of a Franco-American study mainly involving scientists from the CNRS, Ifremer, the Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier and the University of Picardy Jules Verne -- that are leading the way by moving up to six times faster towards the poles than their terrestrial congeners.

Directed species loss from species-rich forests strongly decreases productivity
At high species richness, directed loss, but not random loss, of tree species strongly decreases forest productivity.

What is an endangered species?
What makes for an endangered species classification isn't always obvious.

One species, many origins
In a paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, a group of researchers argue that our evolutionary past must be understood as the outcome of dynamic changes in connectivity, or gene flow, between early humans scattered across Africa.

Species on the move
A total of 55 animal species in the UK have been displaced from their natural ranges or enabled to arrive for the first time on UK shores because of climate change over the last 10 years (2008-2018) -- as revealed in a new study published today by scientists at international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

Chasing species' 'intactness'
In an effort to better protect the world's last ecologically intact ecosystems, researchers developed a new metric called 'The Last of the Wild in Each Ecoregion' (LWE), which aimed to quantify the most intact parts of each ecoregion.

How do species adapt to their surroundings?
Several fish species can change sex as needed. Other species adapt to their surroundings by living long lives -- or by living shorter lives and having lots of offspring.

Five new frog species from Madagascar
Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich and the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology have named five new species of frogs found across the island of Madagascar.

Read More: Species News and Species Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.