There is no denying that turning animal skins into fashion statements has become a huge business in the fashion industry.
For over forty five years Malaysia’s forests supplied python skin to major Eurofashion brands in a trade worth billions of dollars. Not only is this cruel fashion trend disastrous for several snake species, but it also allows for the brutal killing of animals who are skinned alive and left to die in agony!
Close monitoring of python breeding facilities are crucial to ensure there is no laundering of wild snakes as captive-bred ones, says TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
Its Southeast Asia programme manager, Kanitha Krishnasamy, said history had shown that captive breeding could be abused and worked against the conservation of species in the wild.
“Even within the best-regimented systems, there remains a basic challenge of cheap collection from the wild versus more expensive breeding programmes. In other words, will captive breeding (of all kinds of animals in general) be financially viable?
“Frequent, unannounced inspections of premises and breeding stocks are a necessity. Farms should be required to submit records of breeding stock and offspring.” she told the New Sunday Times.
She said there should be a national licensing system for collectors so that authorities can track collection and sale of pythons across state lines. Currently, she said, such licences were issued only at the state level.
“One common smuggling method is slipping illegal skins into a legal shipment. So, checks at ports, airports and border crossings by enforcement agencies could stop illegal shipments.”
Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan said pythons were often treated cruelly.
“Every inch is of value and that is literally the case with the snake skin trade.
“Therefore, barbaric methods have been employed, such as starving the snake to loosen its skin, making it more pliable, and then pumping water into it to stretch the skin further.
“After its mouth is hooked, the body pumped with water and the skin ripped off its body, the snake is left to die a slow and painful death,” she said.
The newly introduced Best Practice Guidelines for Python Processing Facilities states that the snakes should be kept in the least stressful environment and humane killing methods should be employed, which rely on the destruction of the python brain before skinning.
“They must be scrutinised routinely to ensure no form of cruelty is taking place.” she added
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Selangor patron Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said animals, whether domestic or wild, should not be killed.
The snakes, he said, should be set free into the wild, instead of killing and selling them for the benefit of humans. According to him, this is no doubt a cruel act. “Snakes being killed for the skin to be used in making handbags and belts? They should be released into the wild instead.”, he added.