Farmers in southeastern Asia have an interesting idea for how to relieve pressure from the wildlife populationsm, while still giving consumers meat and other products from these wild species. They are going to breed and raise 22 different species in captivity, just like we raise cows and other livestock. The theory is that if they raise enough animals then people will not hunt or poach wild animals to support this trade. Right now wildlife farms are raising snakes, turtles, crocodiles, tigers and monkeys. The snakes are very poisionous. Of the 22 captive species 6 were considered globally endangered and 5 were in Appendix I of CITES. So, if it works it would be great for wild populations.
This plan might sound good on paper, in reality it is not working. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a report this week that says of the 78 farms in Vietnam 42% of them are regualrly restocking species with wildlife populations. In addition 50% admitted that their species’ founder populations were either taken from the wild or a combination of wild and farmed stock. To make matters worse many of these farms are participating in illegal wildlife trafficking.
“Instead of enhancing conservation, commercial wildlife farms actually threaten wild populations,” said Dr. Elizabeth L. Bennett, Director of WCS’s Hunting and Wildlife Trade program. “From the report’s analysis it appears the negative impacts of wildlife farms on wild populations vastly outweigh any advantages.”
Another problem is that as items become legally available to people the demand for these products has increased. As a result the demand for wildlife products has raisen higher than the supply and animals around southeast Asia are being poached to meet the demand. To protect the species that are being raised on these farms researchers have recommended that farmers can not hold any species that is located on the IUCN’s Red List or any species that has national proction status.
So instead of helping wildlife populations these farms are actually putting more stress on them.