Unrestricted exploitation of wild animals and plants is the second-ranked threat to their survival in nature, immediately after habitat destruction. Wild species are used as a source of a wide variety of goods and services, including food, medicines, pets, entertainment and display, industrial raw materials, household, fashion and cultural items. Annual international trade amounts to over 317,000 live birds, over 2 million live reptiles, 2.5 million crocodile skins, 1.5 million lizard skins, 73 tons of caviar, 1.1 million coral parts and 20,000 hunting trophies (CITES monitoring, 2005-2009).
Illegal and unsustainable trade not only affects the disappearance of exploited wild species, it also directly threatens the survival of the local population and exacerbates poverty. Millions of the poorest people living in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, where natural resources are most depleted for wildlife trafficking, use wildlife in their immediate environment as a source of meat, and use plants and trees as fuel and medicines. Illegal trade exhausts economically valuable natural resources, impedes the survival of people who depend on them, and hinders the efforts of countries to protect and sustainably use their natural resources.
According to Interpol, illegal trade in protected species of animals and plants brings annual profits of $ 7-10 billion. That ranks it second by global illicit money turnover, just behind drug trade.
Many zoos around the world, including our country, have not moved far from the Victorian era, when animals were viewed as objects and little thought was given to their needs. Even today, they are often housed in cramped cages and constantly exposed to the view of the audience. Lack of movement and mental stimulation in these conditions results in behavioral disorders, the most obvious of which are stereotypes – repetitive behaviors such as walking in a circle or from one end of the cage to the other, then head or body shaking, licking or biting bars, and more.
Today, more and more pet owners want to keep “exotic” animals, such as snakes, lizards, spiders, birds and mammals. This trend is also present in Serbia. Exotic animals are not good pets. They have complex needs and require special care, housing, nutrition and a lot of time invested in caring for them, which the average owner cannot provide. Because of this, exotic animals often suffer in captivity, may die as a result of inadequate keeping and feeding, and often change more owners or end up in a zoo when their keeping and “wild” behavior become too complicated.