The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

BIG LOAD OF CROC FROM AC­TIVISTS

- PETER MICHAEL Ecology · Animal Rights · Queensland · Jennifer Lopez · The Weather Channel (US) · Victoria Beckham · Victoria · Africa · Texas · Louis Vuitton · Louis Vuitton · Australia · Sydney · Cairns · Miranda Kerr · Jane Birkin · Innisfail · Innisfail · Gold Coast

NORTH Queens­land crocodile farm­ers be­lieve they’ve been un­fairly tar­geted in a global cam­paign by an­i­mal rights ac­tivists against “cru­elty” in the prized crocodile skin hand­bag trade.

“We love crocodiles,” Hart­ley’s Creek crocodile farm owner An­gela Free­man said yesterday.

“We trea­sure them. Ev­ery sin­gle crocodile is very valu­able to us. They’re our liveli­hood, our pets and our prod­uct.”

Mrs Free­man, who has about 3500 crocodiles on her tourist farm north of Cairns (pic­tured), wants the harvest of wild crocodile eggs to be al­lowed in Queens­land to sup­ply the in­sa­tiable de­mand of the na­tion’s $25 mil­lion-a-year skin ex­port mar­ket.

One crocodile egg is worth $50. One crocodile skin is worth be­tween $600 and $800.

And, depend­ing on the brand name, a crocodile leather hand­bag sells for any­where be­tween $2000 and $68,000.

Jen­nifer Lopez is a fan. Vic­to­ria Beck­ham, Mi­randa Kerr and Bey­once too. But ac­tress Jane Birkin, whose name­sake lux­ury Birkin hand­bag is made by Her­mes, is not so sure.

Birkin is in talks with Her­mes to re­move her name from the iconic prod­uct af­ter un­der­cover ac­tivists filmed con­tro­ver­sial crocodile slaugh­ter prac­tices in Africa and Texas.

Her­mes own a crocodile farm south of Cairns. Louis Vuit­ton own one at Innisfail.

Mrs Free­man, who sup­plies about 900 hides a year com­pared with 20,000 by the big­ger farms, said she too was ap­palled at footage of the cruel treat­ment of crocodiles.

“Here we use elec­tric shock and then a sin­gle bullet to the head be­fore pro­cess­ing the an­i­mal.

“We have the high­est eth­i­cal stan­dards, so it is ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ing when you get fa­nat­i­cal ve­gan ac­tivists who want to shut ev­ery­one and ev­ery­thing down.”

PETA Aus­tralia, who held protests out­side Her­mes stores on the Gold Coast and in Syd­ney, said they were work­ing to ex­pose an­i­mal cru­elty in crocodile farm­ing.

“We are ex­tremely con­cerned about the treat­ment of crocodiles held and used for their skins in North Queens­land crocodile farms,” spokes­woman Claire Fryer said.

Fed­eral politi­cians sit­ting on a Se­nate in­quiry into aqua­cul­ture were this week urged to pro­tect the crocodile farm­ing in­dus­try.

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