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Savage Snakeskin

Words: Emma van Braningen

October 10, 2011

From manicures in Dubai, to almost every runway in fashion month, snakeskin is popping up everywhere, appearing to be completely à la mode. But what many fail to understand is the unimaginable cruelty that’s involved.

Karl Amman, a conservationist, did some undercover research into the industry on a recent trip to Indonesia. The tropical country is the largest exporter of snakeskin in south-east Asia, contributing 150,000 bigger pythons, 60,000 smaller ones and hundreds of thousands more lizards per year. Fashion houses claim that the process is humane, but this is absolutely untrue. The whole procedure, from capturing them to killing them is one that most people wouldn’t be able to stomach hearing. This happens to pregnant females regardless of their condition.

Not only is this a humane disaster, but it is also an environmental one – it threatens to result in rodent overpopulation. Indonesia also produces a lot more than its export quota, but smuggles it out via neighboring countries.

Amman has spoken to the head of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), but putting an end to the cruelty could take years. He then targeted the headquarters of fashion houses, showing them the stomach-curling footage but only Swatch watchmakers agreed to stop using wild caught reptile skins.

Amman said, ‘It is existing legislation which says you cannot import products where cruelty was involved in the production process. And if that can be proven, then there is no question that these countries should adhere to their own laws and stop the import of these product. And if there’s no import, there’s no manufacturing, there’s no selling.’

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