There is nothing more exciting than walking into a pet store to find a new companion. For the most part, animals in stores come from captive breeders–meaning they can sustain numbers without having to catch more from the wild.
A problem has potential to emerge when the animal under desire can only be wild-caught. Take the Sungazer lizard, for example. Commonly called the Giant Girdled Lizard, these animals are native to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Popular for their dragon-like appearance, these animals quickly became popular in the exotic pet trade. Unfortunately, these animals do not perform well during captive breeding, and because of this, they must be caught individually.
The increased desire for Sungazers quickly caused numbers to dwindle, and without regulations on their species, these girdled lizards now face extinction. Since then, methods have been set in place, pulling these animals from the exotic pet trade in order to raise their population numbers.
What’s happening with these lizards isn’t uncommon in other species as well, another being Ontario’s Spotted Turtle.
While regulations can be set in place after the fact to protect numbers, it seems logical to have a scale in place to limit overexploitation from the start. The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) strives to halt illegal pet trade, while encouraging legal numbers coming from the wild to be reduced–as to not harm the individual species.
With the pet trade increasing, the need for further regulations follows in parallel. From WWF’s viewpoint:
“Historically, such overexploitation has caused extinctions or severely threatened species and, as human populations have expanded, demand for wildlife has only increased.”
Hopefully, a stronger desire for conserving these species numbers in the wild will catch hold, and animals like the Sungazer Lizard will no longer dwindle due to a growing industry.
What’s your opinion?