(ANIMAL WELFARE) While many turn a blind eye, there is no denying that the exotic snake skin trade continues to be big business in the fashion industry. Not only is this cruel fashion trend disastrous for several snake species, but it also allows for the inhumane killing of animals who are skinned alive and left to die in agony. In the article below, contributor Niqui Stubbs sheds light on the shocking reality behind this illegal trade. Read on to learn about the dangers of supporting the exotic animal skin fashion industry and how companies are urging the public to “keep wildlife out of your wardrobe.” — Global Animal
The Year of Snake: A Year For Change
By Niqui Stubbs
Snakes don’t exactly have the best reputation, and they definitely don’t have that ‘cute’ factor—but does that make them any less beautiful? Does that give people the right to treat them with cruelty? Snake skin is very popular and is proving to be a style that (sadly) never goes out of fashion. This is a problem where sustainability is concerned, and also with regard to the industry the fashion trend attracts. The demand for snake skin is so high that it has resulted in a flourishing illegal trade, which has, in turn, become the main source of the problem.
In the illegal python skin industry, there are no rules on how an animal is killed. A popular method for poachers involves filling the snake’s body with water in order to loosen the skin, and then nailing the snake to a tree by its head where the animal is skinned alive. It takes around two days for the snake to eventually die from dehydration. This inhumane method of killing snakes cannot be stopped until the illegal industry is completely eradicated.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) was put in place in 1975 to monitor and help prevent situations such as this, as the treaty’s aim is to protect endangered species and keep them from becoming extinct. These efforts have obviously not been radical enough to protect animals on a large scale, and high fashion groups such as Gucci are teaming up to introduce a system where snake skin can be tracked from ‘marsh to market,’ in order to boycott the illegal trade. Simply put, if the demand for illegal snake skin decreases, so will the need for it.
Gucci believes that ‘traceability means transparency and transparency means credibility.’ While this may be true, this action will not eradicate the illegal industry entirely, as smaller companies might be more than willing to accept illegal skin since it is offered at a lower price. To make a significant difference, there should be a penalty for the illegal capture, killing, and selling of snakes. This would be even more effective if it were also illegal to purchase skin that is not CITES certified.
The hugely popular high street store, Topshop, has collaborated with PETA on a number of occasions to educate the public on the dangers of supporting the exotic animal skin fashion industry. For instance, their latest window display on Oxford Street in London urges customers to ‘keep wildlife out of your wardrobe.’
Stores as influential as this are the ones who are going to make the most significant impact on customers. With these major companies on board, it is only a matter of time until the demand for exotic skins decreases so much that there is no need for the illegal industry to continue. It is nice to see the fashion industry developing a conscience, and hopefully that same compassion will soon be incorporated into their customers’ shopping decisions.
The year 2013 is the year of the snake, so let’s make this a year to educate people on the dangers of over-poaching of exotic animals and the inhumane happenings of the illegal industry.
Niqui is a fourth-year medical student with in an interest in animal welfare. She thinks that education is the one of the best ways to eradicate the illegal poaching of animals for their skin, and currently writes on behalf of a London based law firm.