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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, the