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Nature conservation discussion

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  • Ceratogyrus
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12 years 5 months ago #33673 by Ceratogyrus
Nature conservation discussion was created by Ceratogyrus
Seen as the topic has been locked: www.tarantulas.co.za/forum/shows-and-eve...er?limit=12&start=72 I decided that we should start a bit of a discussion.
I recieved a letter written by a babon spider enthusiast from the Western Cape. There are a few valid points and a few that obviously came across in the wrong way from the meeting because they didn't actually attend the meeting (Because they are in the Western Cape).
Below is the letter.
Please note, this was not written by me, but as I said there are some really valid points.
The more I think about it, the less I am convinced that its a good idea to give out breeding permits. I think when we look back in 10 years time, and try and explain why there are local species found in areas that they shouldn't be found, we will see just how irresponsible certain members of the tarantula community are/were.
Its a sad truth, but anyone that has been in the hobby for a few years will agree that the few bad apples will always spoil the bunch.
If the breeding permits idea is not passed I will be a happy man.

Anyway, here is the letter:

So, after receiving a copy of the "workshop discussion points" from last weekend's meeting, regarding baboon spiders and the hobby trade, we’re sad to say that we were wrong in our expectations of what this could mean for the protection of baboon spiders:

1. The hobby decided to base their argument about the current legislation of baboon spiders' protected status, on one occurrence from the mid 1980's, where a Limpopo man was collecting large numbers of baboon spiders from the wild and exporting them. From the list of attendees at the meeting, its safe to say that the majority (if not all) of people at the meeting know that illegal collecting and exporting of baboon spiders is still happening to this day, and has been since the 1970's.

2. The hobby of keeping exotic tarantulas in Gauteng was spurred by the fact that the laws governing the keeping and trading in exotic species had so many loopholes, that someone who was arrested for being in the possession of an exotic tarantula (actually stealing it), took the case to court, and won! Maybe people in other provinces should use this as an example, and take Nature Conservation to court too? The wording of the legislation is clearly flawed. What does it say for conservation, and people who care about conservation, when criminals can abuse the system because of flaws in the conservation legislation? These are small creatures that not many people care about, but what about fauna and flora that spur emotion, like rhinoceros and cycads?

3. Another idea raised by Nature Conservation and objected to by members of the hobby, was to limit the captive breeding program to 10 or 15 species. The hobby members want the list to be unlimited! So what about species like Ceratogyrus paulseni, which are so restricted in habitat, that merely harvesting specimens for a captive-breeding program could wipe out the entire population? It looks like the motivating factor here is greed, and people are more worried about their pockets than about conservation like we initially thought.

Secondly, what happens in the case of undescribed species? Since our work with baboon spiders started, we have discovered at least 20 undescribed species. Some of these are habitat specific, morphological variations of the same species, but some are strong species. How would these new species be regulated, and how would Nature conservation prevent intra/extra specific hybridisation among species? There are no people with the expertise necessary to satisfactorily separate these species.

4. Here's a ridiculous suggestion! How are people going to be awarded permits for captive-breeding? Apparently there will be an auctioning process, where the highest bidder will win the rights to breed baboon spiders! So once again, we're back to the entire process being dictated by finances, and who has the most money, or more importantly, who stands to make the most money by selling baboon spiders into the trade. What is anybody gaining by this process? (Besides the winner of the bid) What about people who are generally interested in breeding baboon spiders, who are poor, what about students who don't earn salaries, researchers who get paid peanuts, surely these people are better suited than someone who has lots of cash but knows nothing about spiders?

* Here's a suggestion. If you want to take the "money factor" away from these creatures, make an agreement between Nature Conservation and the breeders that any spiderlings of any species bred, be sold for not more than R40.00. If there is no demand, there will be no need for supply, and after 2 or 3 seasons, there will be enough spiders scattered about the hobby to ease the demand for collecting. The people who are only in this for the money will soon realise that they are wasting their time and resources.

5. The hobby "leaders" suggested that the permitting system for breeding and keeping local baboon spiders be very restrictive, so that not everyone would receive a permit to keep and breed spiders. How would this help? So keep the market based inside a circle of close friends only? Isn't this going to create a monopoly? Isn't this monopoly going to be able to dictate pricing and availability (market rarity) of certain species? As far as we’re concerned, if one person can obtain a permit to keep and breed, then anyone should be able to obtain the same permit. The hobby in South Africa is so small, that the market will soon be flooded, and the pressure will be removed from wild populations. Again, lets not create a pedestal to raise certain individuals onto. Let’s make it about protecting the animals.

6. It was suggested that pet shops not be allowed to sell baboon spiders. Why should certain individuals be allowed to benefit from selling baboon spiders but not shops? Where is the logic in this? It’s well known that some of the representatives present at the meeting have some ties to, or affiliations with pet shops or online dealerships. So does this mean that they will not be allowed to then obtain breeding permits, because of their affiliations? Why punish a shop because it operates from a building, rather than online?

7. It was suggested that permits be issued for exotic baboon spider species from the genera Ceratogyrus and Pterinochilus, because of the abundance of Ceratogyrus marshalli in the local hobby. Surely all baboon spiders, exotic or local, should have permits issued, because after a season of captive-breeding, there will be an abundance of species from all genera in the local hobby? Secondly, on the same point, the only reason that there is an abundance of Ceratogyrus marshalli in the local hobby, is because they have been bred locally and supplied to the local market, so again, only a handful of people are profiting from this reasoning.

8. A note was made that permits would be required from other provinces where collecting would need to be done for captive-breeding stock. Why not use the same system of permitting for all provinces, so that everyone could gain from this new proposal? This way, people in the Western Cape could collect and breed species from the Western Cape, people from Gauteng could collect and breed species from Gauteng etc etc. This way, if captive-breeding is to be controlled (as stated), then any chance of a possible escape of captive-bred species, would not result in an alien invasion by non-endemic species? Surely this makes more sense, than to have a handful of people from Gauteng controlling all the breeding, of all the species throughout the entire country? I don't see the logic. If Gauteng Nature Conservation can be suggesting, and implementing these kinds of proposals, why not get all the provinces involved and change legislation in all the provinces? Anything that relates to species becoming invasive in the Western Cape, would surely apply to species in Gauteng?

9. We won't be dealing with discussions relating to exotic species, because no points raised at the meeting point in any direction conclusively. It seems people feel the need to use the isolated example of the Florida population of Brachypelma vagans to prove a point, which is obviously not a good enough example used as a stand-alone argument.
We will comment on the proposal raised about being able to buy, at auction (seemingly a popular money making concept raised at the meeting), specimens that were originally confiscated by Nature Conservation officials. Our comment is that some of the exotic specimens that have been confiscated in the past, were probably imported by the same individuals who will be benefiting from the proposed indigenous captive-breeding program. So indirectly, these people will be benefiting not only from money made from the new proposed legislation, but from criminal activities of the past. Also, how is selling confiscated exotics back into the trade, going to help with "phasing out the trade in unwanted exotic species", which was suggested as a reason by Nature Conservation for phasing in the new legislation of trade in baboon spiders?

In conclusion, we'd like to ask:
What does Nature Conservation hope to gain by the proposed captive-breeding program?
If the answer is: "to phase out unwanted exotic species", then why auction off confiscated exotics back into the pet trade?
If the answer is: "to ease pressure on natural populations by collectors", then what happens to threatened populations like Ceratogyrus paulseni, which may suffer irrecoverable damage from the removal of specimens for captive-breeding?

Our suggestions are:
1. Research which species are not threatened, and create a list of species for inclusion in a captive-breeding program. It should not be unlimited, but rather limited to +/- 10 species, as suggested.

2. Sell all resulting offspring from all captive-breeders of ANY species for not more than R40.00 each.

3. Re-write clear legislation, which is applicable to all provinces.

4. Award breeding permits to applicants based on their eagerness to be involved for conservation reasons. DO NOT auction off permits! This is a ridiculous idea.

5. Allow all acceptable applications for permits, do not make it "very restrictive" for certain individuals.

6. If online dealers, or hobbyists with affiliations to online dealers and petshops can be awarded captive-breeding permits, and permits to trade in baboon spiders, then pet shops should be allowed to trade in baboon spiders as well.

7. Research whether exotic species of baboon spiders (such as Pterinochilus murinus or Ceratogyrus marshalli) have the ability to become invasive pests, or hybridise with indigenous species from the same genera, before issuing permits to anyone who is in possession of one.

8. Do not issue permits to people from Gauteng, to captive-breed species from any other provinces. Rather issue captive-breeding permits to people from other provinces to breed species endemic to their own provinces.

9. Do not phase out the exotic tarantula trade. If it becomes illegal to trade in exotics, the appeal will again move away from keeping legal baboon spiders, and back to keeping illegal exotics.

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12 years 5 months ago #33689 by cullin
Much agreed with Cater- im not keen on the breeding permits either!
I also agree with most of what is said in the letter that Caret received!
There will always be the people that will abuse the breeding permit system.
There are a couple problems with our current system, but not close to
as bad as things could get with the breed permits! All the enthusiast
that care about our local sp- put effort into our current laws to make them
better and try get rid of the bad apples! The breeding permit system isnt the answer imo!

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us...

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12 years 5 months ago #33699 by Jake
Agree, there is some valid points in the email. I guess it not as simple as it sounds, some more home work will have to be done.

And I think once the group as been established this will also help get some answers.
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12 years 5 months ago - 12 years 5 months ago #33704 by Uwe K
I am only giving answers on the points made so plz don't take my argument as an personal attack.

I don't agree with the idea of having petshops in on the game. We have not had indigenous animals sold in petshops before, except in the unregulated KZN.Petshops sell animals to unfit owners - they constantly prove that they can not properly care for and identify species. A new untested regulation should not be based on a free for all.

The permit system in most cases has allowed fly by night breeders to stay out of the game. The idea of low profit is good but is no substitute for an permit system.

If all breeding is done by only 5 people we can hold those 5 accountable.They should all sell from an single site. All "hobby" breeders can sell their stock back to the site at R10 a sling or exchange for a new species. No private sales will be legal in SA. If you have fears of an hobby person selling without permits or releasing them if should not be blamed on a system that can work albeit the people who are already breaking the law.
Last edit: 12 years 5 months ago by Uwe K.

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12 years 5 months ago #33709 by Taki Tsonis
It's a tangled web we weave.... pardon the pun. That's exactly the reason for this 'Working Group', there's plenty of points that I want to address but I'll do it later as I'm rushing out now... :)

You can take an Aphonopelma to crickets but you can't make it eat!

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12 years 5 months ago - 12 years 5 months ago #33712 by Fuzzy Bear

plz don't take my argument as an personal attack

I request the same indemnity.

Let me categorically state that I am in no position to comment on any legality, current state of policy, nor on the natural state, distribution and/or the scientific studies on Baboon Spiders of our region.

What I am able to comment on is the human factors involved when dealing with anything from legal contracts to permits, from licenses to securities.

There has never been any of the above with the built in ability to bind values or morality. From marriage certificates to oaths by heads of state, from a simple written agreement between partners in a proposed business to arms deals. NEVER has any signature on a piece of paper altered a character.

The permitting of people to deal with anything is flawed from the outset because people change in a flash. These changes have many catalysts. Social pressure, greed, ego and most commonly, money. These catalysts have the unique ability to transform rock to clay.

If I draw from personal experience, the permitting system on spiders has no untainted future. No one single organisation, in this case, Nature Conservation, has the ability to constantly monitor the human character, nor the medicine to cure it. If it had, Abelone and Crayfish would take windy walks on the beach, Rhinoceros would be the National animal of Japan and Brachypelma smithi domesticated pets enjoying Tacos at a crimson Mexican sunset.

Us humans have evolved the splendid ability to shift blame, ignore our conscience and refuse to take responsibility for our actions. No permit on the planet will change that, and never will. That is as low as we have sunk as a society, and that stands in the way, again, in this case too.

"Speak for yourself" you may say... Change my mind and no permit will ever be required again...

Most people are like clouds. The sun comes out when they f*ck off...
Last edit: 12 years 5 months ago by Fuzzy Bear.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Carlo

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