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Do Hobbyists Hinder Conservation? A Herpetologist's Opinion - What do You Think?

Azhael

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Does "hardcore enthusiast" include people who buy illegally collected animals because they are rare...? Because there are plenty of people who see themselves as such who gleefully participate of the WC market even if they know the animals are collected in massive numbers, misstreated or even collected illegally. The people who bought illegal N.kaiseri back in the day no doubt thought of themselves as hardcore enthusiasts. Maybe some even thought they were doing good. I know that there were plenty of people who didn't condemn such things and who saw those hobbyists as the absolute height of the hobby...they had the rarest and most expensive species, they must be the best hobbyists ever!
There are good things that come out of this hobby, but none of it can justify the bad that it causes. Excluding the "bad" or defining it away is a bit disingenuous.

I'm pretty sure many of the people who end up being herpetologist start off by keeping a toad here or a garter snake there. Take away those opportunities and it's unimaginable the losses to science and conservation. From a conservation standpoint, that's the best reason to support captive keeping

Two things about this. The first one is that while i think it's great to promote a passion for nature in kids and keeping captive animals can be a great way to achieve this, it's by no means the only way, so it may be that even without captive keeping, the loss to science and conservation could be not that big at all.
The other one is that from a conservation standpoint, that's not the best reason...the best reason would be to aid conservation directly, not indirectly, but that's very nearly, aaaaaaalmost never the case.
It is however a fantastic reason to support captive keeping anyway, but not at any cost. That captive keeping should have zero or very near zero impact on wild populations and captive ones should be managed properly for sustainability and self-supply. That's not currently the case.
 

Redear

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Does "hardcore enthusiast" include people who buy illegally collected animals because they are rare...?

Do you think that's what I mean? Really?

Nobody is trying to exclude the bad. We are all acknowledging the bad. We are just looking at hobbyists who are captive breeding newts as a glass half full. That doesn't mean we are all naive and ignorant to the problems. It doesn't mean we justify the problems. We just want to bring up that some people do some good things. Just because we bring up the positive doesn't mean we ignore the negative.
 

Coastal Groovin

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What leads to the loss of animals is the loss of habitat. Roads are the number one killer of animals. Number to is construction for homes.
 

Azhael

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Do you think that's what I mean? Really?

Nobody is trying to exclude the bad. We are all acknowledging the bad. We are just looking at hobbyists who are captive breeding newts as a glass half full. That doesn't mean we are all naive and ignorant to the problems. It doesn't mean we justify the problems. We just want to bring up that some people do some good things. Just because we bring up the positive doesn't mean we ignore the negative.

No, i don't think that's what you meant, i think that's what you should have meant. To me, it sounded like a "no true scotsman"....ah yes, there are bad hobbyists out there, but they are not "hardcore enthusiasts". It's easy to just look at the good and exclude the bad, i see people do it aaaaaall the time.
I'm glad to hear that you are aware of the bad parts, but i disagree that you are acknowledging them, at least here you haven't...unlike you i wish people wouldn't gloss over them in order to boost the good parts, because that makes it easy to not do a thing about them, plus the good parts are dwarved by the bad parts. That's not a glass half empty approach, it's a realistic one, and that's important if there is to be any hope for improvement.
 

Azhael

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What leads to the loss of animals is the loss of habitat. Roads are the number one killer of animals. Number to is construction for homes.

Hey, lung cancer is a more serious problem than prostatitis, so let's not even bother to do a thing about the latter.
 

Chinadog

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I would say the most serious threat to amphibians at the moment is pathogens spreading via the animal trade. We've seen how quickly it wipes native populations out time and again yet the imports continue. Tight regulation or even an outright ban would be the only sensible way to stop it for the time being, after all many of the Asian species are strictly protected (in theory) in their homeland and yet they are still being exported seemingly only becoming legal once they reach their destinations.
We should be pulling together now and seriously thinking about properly ensuring a future in the hobby for the commonly imported stuff before its too late.
That's my $0.02, anyway.
 

Azhael

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Tight regulation or even an outright ban would be the only sensible way to stop it for the time being

But, but, but, i really want some Tylos and the satisfaction of my latest whim is the only thing that matters! How dare you suggest a ban...i have fancies to meet!
 

manderkeeper

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Chinadog,

I must say that I agree with you that the current Asian newt market should be altered, but perhaps for slightly different reasons. The disease concern makes this a good time to consider change, though. Right now it would be impossible to make money farming Asian newts due to the low cost imports. However, I have a relative with a large amount of land and could easily justify a few barely heated building in the winter time if the price of newts suddenly shot up to 30$/each. This would greatly simplify disease screening since I'd probably only need a a few dozen adults to get started. The end customer would also likely end up with a much better product given the lack of stress, holding, and transport could be minimized compared to the current system, I'm not convinced the Asian newts imported for the pet trade have any effect on wild populations, though. If that were the case, all the newt supplies would have dried up by now as this has been going on for decades and the price would have shot through the ceiling.
 

Azhael

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Chinadog,

I must say that I agree with you that the current Asian newt market should be altered, but perhaps for slightly different reasons. The disease concern makes this a good time to consider change, though. Right now it would be impossible to make money farming Asian newts due to the low cost imports. However, I have a relative with a large amount of land and could easily justify a few barely heated building in the winter time if the price of newts suddenly shot up to 30$/each. This would greatly simplify disease screening since I'd probably only need a a few dozen adults to get started. The end customer would also likely end up with a much better product given the lack of stress, holding, and transport could be minimized compared to the current system, I'm not convinced the Asian newts imported for the pet trade have any effect on wild populations, though. If that were the case, all the newt supplies would have dried up by now as this has been going on for decades and the price would have shot through the ceiling.

Mass production is exactly the way to not produce sustainable, genetically diverse populations.
Once again, the focus here is "how to supply the market"...which don't get me wrong, i understand, and your strategy is certainly a step forward from mass collection, it's just that i'm not convinced the market needs to be supplied...not if that means sacrificing important aspects of welfare and captive management.
Let's say that asian newts are banned and people no longer can get H.orientalis, for example....so what? Seriously...what's the terrible loss here? People not being able to buy those animals on a whim...untold numbers of animals not suffering because they are in the hands of inexperienced, unprepared or irresponsible keepers.

I don't understand why the thing that matters the most is that people keep being able to do what they have been able to do up until now, as if that's been a positive thing or it was some kind of fundamental right. There are plenty of species i would absolutely love to keep, but i'm very happy not to because i know they are protected, or would need to be procured through unethical means...

As for mass collections of asian species not having an impact, since we have virtually no data i don't see how anyone could be convinced either way....But just so you know, there have been shifts in what animals get imported...It used to be that T.shajing and T.verrucosus were heavily imported, then they got substituted by T.kweichowensis...then T.yangi....H.orientalis imports have been showing variability not seen before, plus h.fudingensis seems to be starting to pop up in those imports....it sure seems like collections are moving from one population and one collection site from another as the ones that used to be exploited fail to satisfy the demand....
 

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But, but, but, i really want some Tylos and the satisfaction of my latest whim is the only thing that matters! How dare you suggest a ban...i have fancies to meet!

Yeah, that's about the size of it at the moment.
Is there a sensible counter argument against the tight regulation of imports? Sure, it would drive the prices of the animals up no end, but that would be ideal in my opinion and can only make people think before they buy salamanders on a whim and toss them in with the turtles or tropical fish to die.
Look what happened when mass imports of European tortoises were regulated, the prices sky rocketed from a few pounds to hundreds so enthusiasts put great effort into their care and breeding. Pretty much all of the species that were regulated are now available as captive bred thanks to the export bans placed on them by their countrys of origin.
 

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I don't even think there would be any significant loss to the Herp/pet trade in general if salamanders vanished from the wholesalers lists. Friends in the trade have often said there's little money to be made on the sale of livestock, it's the dry goods like vivs, heaters, bulbs, pellets and the like where the profit is and as we know none of that's required for caudates.
 

Coastal Groovin

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[QUOTE ]I would say the most serious threat to amphibians at the moment is pathogens spreading via the animal trade.[/QUOTE]

Pathogens being spread by the pet trade??? How about all the plants being shipped all over the world. Planting soil being shipped across states and the borders of other countries. All the pathogens being spread on the boots and clothes of eco-vacationers and biologists. On the feet and feathers of birds and migrating animals. How about on fruit and vegetables and all the amphibian and insects hitch hiking across the globe on them. Trying to blame the pet trade is a bunch of bull **** from people with their little anti pet trade agendas.
 

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I'm not anti pet trade or even anti wild caught herps, but the way it's done at the moment is wrong. I'm not suggesting the pet trade is the only way these things are spread either, but shipping large numbers of live animals via the foreign wild animal street markets straight to pet stores under the cheapest conditions possible, conditions that make outbreaks of disease a near certainty and selling them for next to nothing is asking for it, what's the benefit? I did ask if there is a sensible argument against tighter regulation or an outright ban "for the time being" and there's been no answer.
 

Azhael

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The anti pet-trade mafia is trying to take your newts away from you!! Beware, they have agendas!!
Unbelievable...
Nobody has even suggested that the pet-trade is the sole barer of responsibility for the spread of pathogens (because it's known not to be)...nobody has even suggested to restrict all pet-trade....what has been suggested is that restricting or banning the mass importations of WC animals that are known to carry pathogens would be one way to aid in the prevention of the spread of such pathogens...which it is...
Also, please remind me, which bird was responsible for the introduction of asian B.salamandrivorans into The Netherlands...was it storks or the rare migrating magpie...or maybe it was lettuces...And what about Amphibiichlamydia...a pathogen that requires a live amphibian host, did it come in the boots of careless herpetologists?
There are plenty of pathogens in private herp collections...do you think that storks are getting inside people's houses and basements, dipping their feet in aquaria, licking salamanders and exiting through the window while cackling malevolently? Maybe...maybe there's a single ninja stork...with an anti pet-trade agenda :O
Let's ignore the giant amount of animals being exported worldwide, kept in crammed conditions, and known to carry pathogens as a possible route for the spread of pathogens and pretend that far more unlikely routes are obviously the ones to blame, specially since we are in a position to do little to nothing about the less probable ones, but could potentially have some effect on the massive importations with giant neon signs saying "Danger" on.
 
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sde

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I did ask if there is a sensible argument against tighter regulation or an outright ban "for the time being" and there's been no answer.

I think the reason there has been no answer is because there isn't a sensible argument. A ban would be fantastic, hopefully one comes in place...
 
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