Blog-a-thon: Illegal Trade Of Indigenous Fauna

This blog submission is an announcement of awareness by Matthew Chandler Christopher, and Education Student at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. The view this submission in full, check out The Sharp Student Blog page or simply follow this link.

On Saturday, October 29 at about 14:30, my parents and I were in Rustenburg on the long road to Sun City. We came across some street hawkers on the side of the road selling the usual merchandise one would come to expect. Upon closer observation of this particular group of hawkers I noticed that they were holding little creatures in their hands.

They were holding light-green dwarf chameleons with beautiful orange eyes. This truly shocked me as I did not expect to see this.

Our chameleon species are being sold illegally on the side of roads. They may seem like insignificant reptiles but they play a big role in the natural ecosystems and food webs in their environments.

They are now being exploited for their attractiveness in the pet trade. This will be detrimental to the population of chameleons in South Africa and it will impact negatively on other species which live in symbiosis with them.

2008-10-31_0267028.JPGLet’s not wait for this issue to grow – let’s do something now to conserve this amazing species. Loss of habitat is already a problem – let’s take action now to protect them for future generations to enjoy. We are blessed to have a rich biodiversity of fauna and flora in our country. Let us appreciate what we have now before ignorance and time makes us remember what we had.

  • Poverty could be one of the driving factors behind this. Chameleons are collected in the bush and sold for cash
  • Demand for chameleons on the pet trade industry could be on the rise
  • I am not aware of any medicinal purposes of chameleons – let’s hope that none exist
  • The chameleons have to withstand unfavourable conditions when captured. Temperatures during the day can soar high. Being held in a hand the whole day without nourishment can be devastating to their health. They could die and then just get thrown away.

I can’t just state the problem to you so here are some solutions:

  • Do some news inserts on this to raise some awareness
  • Research into this issue to find out more
  • Alert the Department of Environmental Affairs and wildlife aid structures 
  • The Department has the funds to create a campaign in schools to raise awareness
  • Implement harsh fines for offenders – this money will go to the conservation of the species
  • Environmental rehabilitation – planting of indigenous trees and shrubs and plants

Please do not take this lightly. Look at what has happened to the rhino populations. They are on the verge of extinction but thankfully those in the right places are doing something about it. Only now some serious action has been taken. Let us not wait a minute longer – let’s conserve – there is a lot of money in eco-tourism. We cannot let our precious resources go to waste.

Do what you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are, right now; Thank you for your time.

Matthew Chandler Christopher, The Sharp Student Blog
Photo Credit: Your Shot, Tony Mackrill

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