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      The Rush for the Rare: Reptiles and Amphibians in the European Pet Trade

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      Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI

      MDPI

      biodiversity, exotic pet trade, CITES, reptiles, amphibians, conservation

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          Abstract

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          The exotic pet trade has been identified as a main threat to many reptile and amphibian species, especially for optically attractive species or those with special biological features. The international exotic pet trade is largely unregulated and in large parts still heavily depends on wild-caught specimens. Rarity sells, and species that are new to science or new on the pet market are highly sought-after and may fetch record prices. The European Union is a main hub and destination for both legally and illegally sourced wildlife. In the German town Hamm, one of the largest reptile trade shows in the world takes place four times a year, attracting traders and clients from across Europe and beyond. Based on ten case studies, our article illustrates marketing mechanisms and trade dynamics for reptiles and amphibians, which have only recently been described by science. The paper also highlights the problems of insufficient international legislation to prevent over-exploitation of such species or even those which are nationally protected in their country of origin, and presents solutions.

          Abstract

          Direct exploitation is one of the five main reasons for the loss of biodiversity, and collections for the international pet trade are an ongoing threat for many reptiles and amphibians. The European Union and in particular Germany have a central role as a hub and destination for exotic pets from all over the world. Rare species of reptiles and amphibians especially are in the focus of collectors. Rarity on the market may be either caused by rarity of a species in the wild or by a limited availability for sale, e.g., due to national protection measures in the range state or remote localities. The present study identified 43 species that are not listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and were only recently described, but have already entered the European pet trade. Ten of these species were selected as case studies, representing species from different geographic regions and illustrating the marketing mechanisms. Many such species that are new to science are neither assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species nor are they covered by international legislation, even though in several countries, where such internationally sought-after species are caught, national protection measures are in place. This paper analyses the challenges and opportunities for the protection of potentially threatened and newly described reptile and amphibian species against over-exploitation for the pet trade.

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          Most cited references 80

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          Endangering the endangered: The effects of perceived rarity on species exploitation

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            Scientific description can imperil species.

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              Wildlife across our borders: a review of the illegal trade in Australia

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Animals (Basel)
                Animals (Basel)
                animals
                Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
                MDPI
                2076-2615
                10 November 2020
                November 2020
                : 10
                : 11
                Affiliations
                Pro Wildlife, Engelhardstrasse 10, 81369 Munich, Germany; katharina.lameter@ 123456prowildlife.de
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: sandra.altherr@ 123456prowildlife.de ; Tel.: +49-(0)89-81299-507
                Article
                animals-10-02085
                10.3390/ani10112085
                7697995
                33182744
                © 2020 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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