Friday, 17 May 2013

Keep wildlife out of your wardrobe

Topshop have tried to raise awareness of the goings on of the illegal poaching 
industry and regularly collaborate with PETA in their window displays

Snake skin has been a popular material for clothes and accessories for a number of years and unfortunately the demand for it does not look as though it is slowing down. It is this demand that drives the illegal trade in which snakes are treated worse than you could ever imagine, as the poachers obviously do not follow any rules of how the animals should be killed in a humane way.

You’re probably thinking why should I care about what happens to snakes? Admittedly, snakes are not the cutest and cuddliest of creatures, but they have their own kind of beauty, and things are not sustainable the way they are; some species are endangered and they will become extinct.

When a poacher catches a snake they pump them full of water and clamp their mouths shut so the water cannot escape. This loosens their skin. They then nail them to a tree by their head and skin them alive. The poor snakes are left in complete agony until they finally die of dehydration two days later. Could you think of a worse way to die? Being drowned, nailed to a tree by your head then skinned alive? Sounds like something out of a horror film to me. It is completely inhumane.

Gucci are one high fashion brand who are aware that this goes on and want to stop it. They are teaming up with other brands to try to put in place a system that will trace every individual snake skin from ‘marsh to market.’ This would mean that they could boycott any that were not tagged, as they would be from the illegal market. If this was to happen, and lots of designers were to get involved, then there would be no demand for illegal skins, and the trade would hopefully die out.

Popular high street brands like Topshop are the ones that have the most influence over customers, and with them trying stop people buying products made from exotic animals we are one step closer to protecting our endangered species.

Beyonce recently caused a stir when she had some trainers made for her from five different exotic animal skins. The designer released a statement to say that "no animals were beaten, harmed, or killed" to make the shoes. It doesn’t take a genius to find the flaw in that. Beyonce is a highly influential woman and should realise that her actions may have negative consequences to the safety of many endangered species if these shoes are put into mass production.

What are your views on this topic? Would you be happy wearing an animal that was tortured in order for you to have the latest accessory? Or would you ensure that you only bought accessories made from ‘tagged’ skins?
Niqui Stubbs is a fourth year medical student with an interest in fashion, and a love of animals. She currently writes on behalf of a London based law firm and hopes that educating people on what goes on in the illegal poaching industry will encourage them to support endangered species like the snake.

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