An overlooked threat to biodiversity: The global commercial pet trade in amphibians and reptiles

The collection of amphibians and reptiles within the herpetoculture society has attracted global attention. While the US, EU have gone commercial since the late 1970s with Japan following soon after, more markets have emerged particularly in China. The pet trade with popular species has been proven to be detrimental for species due to over-collecting for commercial purposes. Evidence has also been provided that rarity of charismatic and fashionable species, as perceived by humans, can accelerate species extinctions.The capture or collection of wild species with a high international demand and market price can result in an increased (illegal) hunting/collecting pressure, thus provide a strong incentive for the (illegal) overexploitation of species. Species of particular threat are those revealing a geographically localized distribution. While many taxa are controlled under the CITES convention, the majority is not. Both groups provide examples where intense commercial collecting for international demands has resulted in severe declines of species while others have been on the brink of extinction. No national/international law can regulate trade in "most-wanted" species! The poster will therefore emphasise that e.g. the reptile pet trade can extirpate locally rare, cryptic or scientifically yet unrecognized taxa. In addition, another highly current issue contributed through the largely unregulated amphibian pet trade (roughly only about > 100 spp. are regulated under CITES of > 6,600 spp.) is the spread of infectious diseases.

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