Warning: Graphic Content
Graphic new photos shows how animals are treated brutally and killed in order to be turned into fashion accessories.
A new report from the charity World Animal Protection, titled Exploiting Africa’s wildlife – the ‘Big 5’ and ‘Little 5’, has found millions of wild animals are being kept as exotic pets or killed for their skin and fur.
In just four years, it’s estimated 2.7 million vulnerable animals from Africa were legally farmed or captured and then traded as demand soars from consumers in the west.
The charity explain this number represents the top five ‘big’ and ‘little’ species that are being taken from the wild or bred in commercial farms for their skin and the exotic pet trade.
Seals, crocodiles, zebras, elephants, and hippos are the species most in demand for their skins, while pythons, parrots, scorpions, tortoises and lizards are most in demand as exotic pets.
Many of the animals would have suffered immensely in the process of being traded, with some being skinned or boiled alive.
According to the report, Nile crocodiles are intensively farmed to be slaughtered and skinned for their leather, with an average of over 189,000 skins exported annually between 2011 and 2015, which are the latest figures available.
Adult Cape fur seals are shot or clubbed and sometimes even skinned alive for their fur to be used in fashion accessories, such as handbags and gloves, while elephants are killed in the wild for their ivory and their skins.
Dr Neil D’Cruze, the charity’s global wildlife advisor, pointed out that the legality of trading animals doesn’t make it any less cruel.
Trading animals in this way may be legal, but it doesn’t make it right. These are wild animals – not factory-produced goods.
How did we get to the point where animals are exported and greedily exploited for our personal pleasure?
For the animals who are traded as pets, most are subject to a life in a tank or cage.
Ball pythons were found to be the most popular pets, with over half a million having been shipped live from Africa.
African grey parrots were also exported across the globe and are said to suffer considerably during capture and transport. A total of 289,006 birds which should be soaring through the skies are now caged.
Tennyson Williams, World Animal Protection’s Africa director, said:
Africa’s unique wildlife has been commodified – exploited for money, without full consideration for their welfare or conservation – but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Together, we, as the global community and African nations can work together to be custodians of wildlife, or we can choose to allow this cruel exploitation to continue – to the point of no return.
Experts say the wildlife trade is pushing many animals to the brink of extinction.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.