Laws must keep up with changes in pet industry

The increase in cases involving the illegal keeping of exotic pets is not worrying (Take firmer action against trade in exotic pets, by Miss Joyce-Marie Chan En Le; Nov 16).

Rather, it is a reflection of the shift and development of the pet industry.

When local laws fail to keep up with this development, and when pet species are classified as wildlife, there will inevitably be inaccurate data with regard to wildlife crime.

Many exotic animals have been bred solely for the pet trade for many generations - leopard geckos and bearded dragons have been bred as pets for more than 30 generations.

There are always concerns about the impact of exotic animals on the native environment, public safety and wild populations.

Other countries face the same concerns. However, they try to find a solution to cater to the needs of different segments of the pet industry.

An indiscriminate ban does not curb the industry but drives it further underground, making monitoring difficult.

Ignoring the shifts in the industry hints at a lack of expertise or knowledge in this area. Making generalised comments on wildlife crime can also lead to a misinterpretation of the exotic pet industry as a whole.

Many reputable breeders exist. Certainly, there are exceptions and irresponsible dealers, but this happens in all sectors of the pet industry.

There has to be some balance in local wildlife legislation. Only when this happens will the laws no longer seem discriminatory and will be supported by the public.

Ong Junkai

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