Europe's snakeskin fashions could threaten pythons

Nov 27, 2012
A black headed python is coiled around a wildlife personnel in Sydney, September 2012. Europe's love of snakeskin fashion items could threaten the very survival of pythons, according to a report published

Europe's love of snakeskin fashion items could threaten the very survival of pythons, according to a report published Tuesday.

Nearly a half million python skins are exported each year—almost exclusively for use in European fashion—in a massive market with a legal value of more than $1.0 billion (771 million euros), according to the study "Trade in South-East Asian Python Skins."

Many of the skins end up as designer handbags, belts, wallets and other accessories. Italy, Germany and France are the biggest importers, while most of the skins come from Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The trade of python products is closely controlled by CITES, a UN-linked organisation charged with protecting the endangered species and other animals whose numbers are dwindling.

"Problems of illegality persist in the trade in python skins and ... this can threaten the species' survival," Alexander Kasterine of the UN-linked International Trade Centre said in the report.

With supply chains often murky, a huge part of the snakeskin trade may be illegal and unsustainable, said the study, also backed by the International Union for the and the monitoring network TRAFFIC.

The extent of the is hard to quantify, with many illegal skins going undetected. But the report found the illegal trade was possibly on a par with the legal trade.

Large numbers of wild are slaughtered before they can reproduce, the report found, warning that many skins supposedly from captive-bred snakes were likely poached from the wild.

A lack of oversight meant quotas were easily ignored and illegal skins were being smuggled into shipments of legal items, it found.

The European accounts for 96 percent of the value of the trade. It should push for more transparency in the , the study said, calling for a "traceability system" so consumers would know if their snakeskin product is from a legitimate source.

The report also recommended "legally binding minimum skin size limits to ensure protection of immature snakes."

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User comments : 3

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conan1st
5 / 5 (4) Nov 27, 2012
Here is a great idea.. Why don't we start using/exporting python skin from the Florida everglades? There's FAR too many there to begin with & this will help to eradicate them from the everglades(A good thing) & help protect them elsewhere.
nkalanaga
5 / 5 (3) Nov 27, 2012
My thought as well. On the other hand, the Everglades seems to be the only place the Burmese python is increasing in numbers. It would be ironic if they had to be protected there simply because they were extinct in their native range.
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (4) Nov 28, 2012
That would solve two major problems - reducing the numbers of (or even eliminating) a pest species in its non-native range, and serving as a substitute, therefore, protecting other species that are threatened by the trade. I like that suggestion.

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