Added February 21 2004.

The European Union view of the RSPCA report "Morbidity and Mortality"

To put the RSPCA's report into context, it is worth noting the remarks of the EU's CITES Scientific Review Group:

"The RSPCA/Pro-Wildlife report, together with a number of written submissions from reptile keeping associations, had been discussed at length by the EC CITES Scientific Review Group, at its last meeting in September.

The outcome of these discussions was that the SRG felt unable to accept the conclusions of the RSPCA/Pro-Wildlife report. The SRG felt that the report was based on an incomplete review of the literature, contained inaccuracies and gaps in knowledge, and covered many issues outside the SRG's remit and indeed outside the remit of EC CITES regulations.

The SRG took the view that whilst Article 4.6 (c) of EC Regulation 338/97 (i.e. restricting the importation of species that have a high mortality rate during shipment or for which it has been established that they are unlikely to survive in captivity for a considerable proportion of their potential life span) addresses welfare issues, it was primarily designed as a conservation measure to address the cumulative long-term effects of trade in species which are likely to be subject to high mortality in transit or captivity.

The SRG concluded that they had difficulties with the RSPCA's approach and the basis on which they formed conclusions in relation to assessing species' suitability for import suspensions under Article 4.6 (c) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97."

The second paragraph, on the quality of the report, is particularly worth noting, as is the final one on the difficulties that the SRG had with the RSPCA's approach.

About Pro-Wildlife

Pro-Wildlife, the organisation that produced this report for the RSPCA, are a German organisation who claim to be conservationists. Some of their aims seem laudable, such as the preservation of species, and the organisations listed on their links page are innocuous enough.

However, there is very little other information on the organisation itself. The authors of the report are given as Dr Sandra Altherr and Daniela Freyer. Apparently these two ladies were in evidence at the recent CITES conference in Santiago, Chile. Other than this I have been unable to find out any more about their academic qualifications or otherwise.

A cursory search of the Internet reveals that Dr Altherr seems mainly concerned with primates and cetaceans (whales and dolphins), but that she appears to be very much against the keeping of reptiles and other "exotics" and is also unfavourably disposed (at least) to tropical fishkeeping. The suspicion inevitably rises, why did the RSPCA go to pick a German organisation for a report to be applied in the UK? And were Dr Altherr's instincts (in line with their own) a prime factor in their decision?

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