Exotic leather and the creations made with it are a theme just as wide as important to discuss. Last time we spoke about the indestructibility and resistance over time of this kind of leather, this time we want to tackle one of the most sensitive topics, in our opinion: is it right or not to buy and sell items of this kind? What is their weight in nature?
We have been dealing with the production and distribution of items in exotic leather for many years (python, crocodile, alligator, ostrich) and during this time we’ve come into contact with many people all over the world and with their different approaches to the subject; unluckily, we came to the conclusion that the majority of them can be divided in two large categories, both of them too categorical and inevitably wrong.
On one hand, there are those buyers who are not interested at all in the type of leather used to produce their purchase, the species it belongs, and the many procedures related to the procurement of the material. Moreover, they are not attentive at all to the presence or absence of the documents required by law; they are not interested in making sure that the material does not come from illegal hunting or, also, they don’t want to find out if the leather comes from farms or not.
On the other hand, instead, there are those people who affirm that these animals are protected and that their trade is illegal, without having any knowledge of the facts. So, they accuse everyone who is linked to the production, distribution and selling of this leather.
Both ways of thinking are extreme and completely wrong.
Obviously, it is necessary to be aware of the fact that we are discussing animals that are protected by very rigid legislations and that it is absolutely unacceptable to turn a blind eye to them; however, it is also important to understand that the leather whose trade is legally authorized and strictly controlled does not belong to endangered or threatened with extinction animals.
The trade in these animals, the skins and everything that comes from them is not that different from the trade in other products realised in natural leather. Everyone is responsible for preserving this business so that it does not become illegal and unregulated, harming nature. How can we do that?
Between the various international agreements, treaties and conventions on the protection of the environment, the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) stands out.
The Convention was born to protect and regulate every type of trade in species of rare plants and animals. These species are divided in different Appendices.
Appendix I: includes species that are in serious danger of extinction, for which any trade is strictly forbidden.
Appendix II: includes species whose trade is governed by specific laws in order to prevent any exploitation incompatible with their survival. Specimens must be accompanied by numerated exportation documents.
Appendix III: includes species protected by individual States in order to regulate the export from their territories.
The leather we use falls (nearly always) within the Appendix II, so it belongs to the branch of trade that is subject to a rigorous control to avoid harming the environment, but it does not belong to species under strict control or endangered.
A well-organized distribution of these specimens, also, not only prevents the extermination of the species, but also promotes the multiplying of the animals present in nature which, increasing in number, can push back the risk of extinction.
There are many programs with the aim of preserving and increasing the number of specimens, thanks to which many species have considerably augmented the number of existing subjects and have avoided extinction. These species, therefore, have been moved from Appendix I to Appendix II of the CITES.
And, if that is not enough, in many developing countries all the activities related to the trade in exotic leather offer many jobs to many people, saving entire families from starvation. About that, we are going to talk in another article.
This is why trade is so well organized and tightly controlled. And this is how better conditions for all the individuals involved in the process are created: from the farmer, to the seller, to the buyer and to the environment itself. By allowing and legalising trade of a predetermined number of specimens, the Convention foresees that the population of that place is interested in maintaining the species, collecting the eggs in a wild environment and giving them to the farmer, who in turn must preserve certain environmental conditions in his farm and in the wild surroundings. Thanks to these details, also the price of the specimen increases in value, gaining prestige. So, everyone becomes interested in the preservation and protection and everyone try to avoid the development of illegal hunting.
If you want to read more about it, we kindly advise you to take a look to the study of the biologist Ruth Elsey published on National Geographic website on October 2001.
It is a little dated, but still valuable to understand the subject, considering that the program to which reference is made is still effective.
Briefly, it states that it is necessary to get people to understand that preservation programs for well-organized trade help the preservation of endangered species, not the other way around. Also, the biologist says, “If you want to save an alligator, buy a bag made with it”. Unbelievable, right?
It is important to remember that this kind of program helps to remove the illegal request for exotic leather and poaching, which has always existed and will continue to exist. So, avoiding the legal trading in these leather, would inevitably increase poaching and consequently make entire species disappear.
But that’s not all! Part of the earnings coming from various program and from trading is used to preserve protected species in nature. In absence of it, these would not have funds for the preservation.
In conclusion, we would like to underline that, when subjected to strict control with mandatory documentation that every participant of the process must follow and respect, the legal and well-organized trade of leather and exotic leather products, not only does not cause damage to nature, but it promotes protection and conservation in the wild. It is an indisputable fact.
Each of us will have his own opinion that will be different from that of the other. Rightly so. Regardless of what the opinions are, however, it is not possible to accept an attitude of superficiality. Precisely for this reason, we continually repeat that it is necessary to be well informed about the topic before, during and after a purchase.