In Morocco’s mar­kets, con­di­tions for wildlife are ‘ uni­ver­sally poor’

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Short Story Section -

IN MOROCCO’S wildlife mar­kets, an­i­mals are usu­ally kept in poor con­di­tions with­out wa­ter, food and shade, a new study has found.

This is be­cause ven­dors are largely un­aware of the an­i­mals’ needs, re­searchers found.

Much of the trade is also il­le­gal, but a lack of en­force­ment of ex­ist­ing an­i­mal wel­fare laws means there’s lit­tle de­ter­rent to end the trade, re­searchers say.

Cur­rent Moroc­can laws also do not re­flect the stated com­mit­ment of the gov­ern­ment to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards for an­i­mal wel­fare.

In Morocco’s live an­i­mal mar­kets, a wide va­ri­ety of wildlife is avail­able for sale. There’s the threat­ened spur-thighed tor­toise ( go­ing for around $1, and the en­dan­gered Bar­bary macaque (

on of­fer for about $500 or as a photo prop. There are North African hedge­hogs ( Mediter­ranean chameleons (

Egyp­tian co­bras ( too.

But a com­mon thread runs through this North African coun­try’s bustling wildlife mar­kets: an­i­mals are of­ten kept in poor con­di­tions with­out wa­ter, food and shade, a new study has found. and

Daniel Ber­gin, a re­searcher from Ox­ford Brookes Univer­sity, UK, who fo­cuses on the wildlife trade in North Africa, vis­ited wildlife mar­kets in Mar­rakesh, Fez, Casablanca, Mek­nes, Tang­ier and Ra­bat in Morocco a to­tal of 40 times be­tween 2013 and 2017. Over these vis­its, Ber­gin’s team recorded the con­di­tions in which an­i­mals were be­ing kept: whether they had ac­cess to ap­pro­pri­ate food and wa­ter; whether they were able to con­trol for ex­po­sure from heat or sun; whether the ma­te­rial of the floor of the en­clo­sure was com­fort­able; whether there was suf­fi­cient space for them to move around in; and whether they were able to hide from stress.

The team scored the wel­fare of more than 2,100 an­i­mals, and found that the con­di­tions of wild an­i­mals that were on sale or be­ing used for en­ter­tain­ment in Morocco were al­most uni­ver­sally poor.

“Baby mon­keys were picked up and car­ried by a chain that was fixed around their neck even though it clearly caused them a lot of pain and dis­tress,” Ber­gin said. “Tor­toises were of­ten piled to­gether in such a way that they could not all touch the ground and we once found a sack full of tor­toises that had seem­ingly been aban­doned in the cor­ner of a mar­ket. The tor­toises were des­per­ately try­ing to get free, but there seemed to be no im­me­di­ate in­ten­tion to move them, even to put them in crates.”

What dis­turbed the team the most was see­ing an­i­mals with no food and wa­ter, left ex­posed to the heat of the di­rect sun with­out any shade to find respite in. “These an­i­mals were dy­ing slow, painful deaths, to­tally un­nec­es­sar­ily,” Ber­gin said.

The team, how­ever, did not phys­i­cally in­spect the an­i­mals. This made it im­pos­si­ble for them to de­ter­mine if the an­i­mals were car­ry­ing dis­eases or not, the re­searchers re­port in the

Con­ver­sa­tions with ven­dors re­vealed they were largely un­aware of the an­i­mals’ needs. Much of the food avail­able was rot­ting and con­sisted of only let­tuce and mint leaves, de­spite the an­i­mals eat­ing a wider va­ri­ety or dif­fer­ent kinds of food in the wild. The spur-thighed tor­toise, for in­stance, is known to eat at least 34 species of plants in the wild, the re­searchers write, while the Bar­bary ground squir­rel (At­lantoxerus getu­lus) eats mostly fruit, seeds and nuts.

“Ven­dors of­ten in­cor­rectly said that tor­toises do not need to drink wa­ter, or that chameleons only eat mint leaves (they ac­tu­ally eat in­sects and can­not sur­vive on a diet of only leaves),” Ber­gin said. “We do not be­lieve that peo­ple want to in­ten­tion­ally hurt the an­i­mals, but they need to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how to keep them in good health.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.