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Keeping native animals as pets risks conservation, welfare

Humane Society International (HSI) is highly critical of the South Australian Government's move to deregulate the keeping of native animals as pets.

The conservation and animal welfare charity says the government is parroting industry propaganda in defending the move.

Yesterday the state government announced it has added 40 more species to the list of species you can keep as a pet without a permit from 1 July, bringing the total number of species exempt from permits to 98.

"The SA Department of Environment makes the claim that keeping native animals as pets encourages people to care for the environment. Whereas ample evidence shows the pet trade is a major threat to the world's wildlife. Encouraging a flourishing pet trade in wild animals encourages illegal take from the wild which threatens wild conservation,” said Nicola Beynon Head of Campaigns for HSI.

The UN issued a report1 in May warning that 1 million species are threatened with extinction and placed direct exploitation as the No 2 culprit for that statistic, second only to habitat loss. A major UN meeting in Geneva in August will see world governments voting on extra regulations for hundreds of species whose wild conservation is directly threatened by the pet trade.

"Wild animals belong in the wild with needs and instincts that can only be met in the wild. Despite the best intentions of owners, keeping any wild animal in captivity will always compromise their welfare,” warned Ms Beynon.

"Domestic animals are easier to keep in home environments but even they suffer extremely high rates of pet abandonment. Tens of thousands of cats and dogs are abandoned every year across Australia, the result of poorly regulated breeding and sales and impulse buying. Wildlife rescue groups will not thank South Australia for adding native wildlife to that problem.

"South Australia is heading in the wrong direction on this one and seems to be taking their advice and talking points from the wildlife traders themselves.

"Authorities in Australia are regularly breaking up wildlife smuggling rings with Australian wildlife highly prized on black markets. The solution to this is to discourage the keeping of wild animals as pets and educating people on the animal welfare and conservation problems behind the industry.

"HSI encourages anyone who wants a pet to rescue one of the thousands of abandoned cats and dogs in Australia every year, rather than fuelling a commercial trade that does not have the animal's best interests at heart,” concluded Ms Beynon.


1 - Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

2 - The UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

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