School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

Janine Robinson

Supplying the Exotic Pet Trade: Conservation and Livelihood Implications


Supervisor(s): Dr Dave Roberts (Main), Professor Richard Griffiths, Dr Freya St John and Professor Iain Fraser

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The global trade in live animals involves millions of individuals from a diverse array of species every year, and was estimated to be worth over $560 million in 2005. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) aims to regulate this trade by ensuring it does not threaten species survival and in some cases, this is achieved through establishing export quotas, or restricting trade to species of captive origin. As well as having a significant impact on the environment, wildlife trade can impact human livelihoods, both economically as well as socially.

In the 21st Century, reptiles form a substantial component of the exotic pet trade with many coming from biodiversity-rich countries. In addition to wild collection, different captive systems now exist to supply the trade. These include captive rearing of specimens from wild (also known as ‘ranching’) and closed-cycle captive breeding (no augmentation from wild). Whilst captive production may (or may not) lead to reduced pressure on wild populations, it may have unforeseen consequences in terms of livelihoods, and biodiversity conservation, through shifting benefits from rural poor and disconnecting suppliers from source habitats.

Panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) – Madagascar

Previous studies have examined conservation, health and welfare implications of the pet trade, but few have examined the impacts that the trade may have upon suppliers’ strategies, and livelihoods, and how this might impact conservation and sustainability. Using a multi-level, multi-method approach, this study aims to investigate the potential benefits and impacts of the exotic reptile trade on conservation and livelihoods, including a consideration of the role of different wildlife production systems and case studies in a biodiversity hotspot, Madagascar.

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  • Robinson, J. E., St. John, F. A. V., Griffiths, R. A. & Roberts, D. L. (2015). Captive Reptile Mortality Rates in the Home and Implications for the Wildlife Trade. PLoS One 10(11): 1-14
  • Robinson, J. E., Griffiths, R. A., St. John, F. A. V., & Roberts, D. L. (2015). Dynamics of the global trade in live reptiles: Shifting trends in production and consequences for sustainability. Biological Conservation 184(0): 42-50.
  • Robinson, J. E., Bell, D. J., Saleh, F. M., Suleiman, A. A.,& Barr, I. (2010). Recovery of the Pemba Flying Fox Pteropus voeltzkowi:  Population and Conservation Status. Oryx 44: 416-423
  • Sabel, J., Green, K., Dawson, J., Robinson, J., Gardner, C., Starkie, G. and D'Cruze, N. (2009). The conservation status of mammals and avifauna in the Montagne des Français massif, Madagascar. Madagascar Conservation and Development, 4:44-51
  • D’Cruze, N. C., Sabel, J., Green, K. E., Dawson, J. S., Gardner, C. G., Robinson, J. E., Starkie, G., Vences, M., & Glaw, F (2007). The first comprehensive survey of amphibians and reptiles at Montagne des Français, Madagascar.  Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 2 (2): 87 - 99
  • Robinson, J. E., D’Cruze, N. C., Dawson, J. S., & Green, K. E. (2006).  Bat Survey in Montagne des Français, Antsiranana, Northern Madagascar (6 April – 14 December 2005), African Bat Conservation News, 9: 9-13.    
  • D’Cruze, N. C., Green, K. E., Robinson, J. E. & Gardener, C. G. (2006). A Rapid Assessment of the Amphibians and Reptiles of an Unprotected Area of Dry Deciduous Forest in North Madagascar.  The Herpetological Bulletin, 96: 17-25
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  • University of Kent Scholarship
  • Darwin Initiative
  • North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo)
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Last Updated: 05/04/2017