New group targets illegal Asian python skin trade

Gurjit Degun
14 December 2013

A group has been set up to conserve pythons and improve the sustainability of the python skin trade in the supply chain.

The Python Conservation Partnership is a collaboration between the International Trade Centre (ITC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Kering which owns several fashion brands.

They will look to protect two of the biggest python species of South-East Asia that are affected by the python skin trade – the Burmese and the Reticulated Python.

The group is to research into monitoring wild captures to improve sustainable sourcing; differentiating between captive-bred and wild animals through innovative technology. It will develop and promote the highest standards of animal health and welfare, exploring ways to improve captive breeding and better understanding the impacts of the python trade on local livelihoods.

A report by the ITC said that there is a “strong financial incentive for illegal trade in python skins”.

Tomas Waller, chairman of the IUCN SSC Boa & Python Specialist Group, said: “We aim to address fundamental concerns related to sustainability and livelihoods while supporting the recent decisions taken by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to improve sustainability and compliance of Asian snakes trade.”

ITC executive director Arancha González added: “Ensuring that trade, livelihoods and sustainable development go hand in hand is a priority for ITC. The trade in biodiversity-based products such as python skins is a source of cash income to impoverished rural families in South-East Asia. Communities also have an important role in ensuring the sustainability of trade in these products.”

Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer and head of international institutional affairs at Kering said: “Collaboration between the private sector, NGOs (non-government organisations), IGOs (Intergovernmental organisations) and governmental agencies is an important step forward for stakeholders to explore different ways of overcoming the various challenges the python trade faces.

“The insights that the ‘Python Conservation Partnership’ will provide us, as well as our industry peers, will be invaluable and will contribute to defining best practices to help drive an improved trade that all stakeholders agree is urgently needed.”

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