Is it right to raise what should be wild animals for use as leather goods or exotic food menu items in offbeat theme restaurants? These issues came to the forefront recently in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper: private “farms” are raising African crocodiles for making leather handbags and shoes, and ostriches for steaks for offbeat theme restaurants. Although both animals are now considered as being extinct in Israel (both were once indigenous to this country) their being raised on private farms will come to an end in 2012 when the country’s Nature and Parks Authority will cancel regulations that allow the raising of these animals for commercial purposes.
Alligator shoes and handbags ?
Both crocodiles and alligators are being raised for zoological and preservation purposes in wildlife reserves such as Hamat Gader Crocodile and Alligator farm located near the Yarmuk River valley hot springs
on the border between Israel and Jordan. In addition to providing the reptiles to zoos and animal reserves, the farm attracts thousands of visitors each year. Ostriches have been reintroduced into what used to their natural habitats in Israel’s Arava desert region; and can be seen in reserves like the Hai Bar Yotvata wild animal reserve located 40 km north of Eilat. Other once native species like the Arabian Oryx and the African Wild Ass, also endangered roam the reserve’s open areas.
Raising what are normally classified as wild animals for any purpose is an issue that is frequently tabled by animal welfare and rights organizations in the Middle East, whose activities include trying to curtail the capture and sale of wild animals for pets in private households.
Using the skins and pelts of wild animals, for clothing and fashion accessory items has been fought by animal rights activists for years.
These farms are not to be confused with killing wild animals for food, and for use in oriental “medicine” by poachers in African countries and in India, where animal species like African and Indian rhinoceroses, tigers, and even lion are being driven to the brink of extinction.
Although native crocodiles and ostriches are extinct in Israel, there are still enough of them still in the wild in some parts of Africa. For the time being, anyway. But this fact doesn’t warrant raising animals being raised for their skins and meat, by so called “commercial enterprises”.
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