On 4 December, the FPS Public Health organised the conference “Dead or Alive: Towards a Sustainable Wildlife Trade”, dedicated to the reptile and amphibian trade. This trade has been in vogue for the past few years but has repercussions on the environment and both animal and human health. Measures to better manage it must be taken to ensure, among other things, the protection of wild populations.

On that day, more than 100 experts discussed the implementation of recommendations to make the reptile and amphibian trade more sustainable and more responsible. More than 90% of trade in these animals is not regulated (neither in Europe nor worldwide), although most are threatened. As a result, the public authorities have very limited data on this trade. However, the traceability of their use in the trade chain is essential to prevent a decline in their populations in countries of origin. One of the main recommendations is therefore to establish an international customs code for amphibians, which currently does not exist.

The discussions highlighted that the accountability of private operators should be strengthened throughout the trade chain, from capture to detention at the seller's premises. As regards reptiles, which are in vogue as pets in Belgium, it is recommended that the private sector establish a code of conduct, which would ensure sustainable and responsible trade.

Owners of amphibians and exotic reptiles lack information on the effects of keeping these animals and on the laws to be respected. The federal government is therefore launching the idea of creating a Task Force bringing together all the competent levels of governance in order to create a national portal with useful information on amphibians and exotic reptiles that are imported into Belgium, particularly as pets.

Federal Minister of Environment Marie Christine Marghem feels very concerned: Reptiles and amphibians are essential for the balance of our ecosystems. They also contribute to many pharmaceutical products. Better protecting them means not only committing to biodiversity and animal welfare, but also guaranteeing our access to tomorrow's medicines”.

Find out more at https://www.biodiversity.be/4854.

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