Mischaracterizing wildlife trade and its impacts may mislead policy processes: Response to Challender et al. (2021)

Neil D'Cruze, Özgün Emre Can, Lauren A. Harrington
2022 Conservation Letters  
Challender et al. (2021) recently drew attention to 32 scientific articles (including four that we coauthored) citing "mischaracterizations" and "misinterpretations" of wildlife trade and its impacts that "may mislead policy processes." We agree with Challender et al. in that "accurately characterizing wildlife trade and understanding the impact it has on wildlife populations are critical to evaluating the potential threat trade poses to species and informing . . . . policy responses." However,
more » ... our wildlife trade articles (referred to therein) have been misrepresented by Challender et al. ( 2021 ), and we refute the intimation that any of these peerreviewed scientific research papers may have misled policy processes. Harrington et al. ( 2019 ) are cited as "assuming that use/trade [in Asian otters as exotic pets] constitutes a threat to species or is detrimental to wild populations." In fact, we make no such assumption, and specifically state in Harrington et al. (2019) , "it is not currently possible to assess the actual impact of the pet trade on wild otter populations in the region." We go on to state that ". . . the precarious nature of wild populations of all otter species in this region, means that any additional, or increasing, pressure on wild populations, is a serious cause for concern. . . ." (citing the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and a formal CITES document as sources), which we maintain provides crucial baseline information for any evidence-based policy process. Further, we argue that for this, and other vulnerable species subject to multiple potentially interacting pressures and lacking critical data, a precautionary approach (with respect to population status) is entirely appropriate. Challender et al. ( 2021 ) also criticize D'Cruze and Macdonald (2016) for incorrectly assuming that source code "I" in the CITES trade database, used for confiscated or seized specimens, refers to illegal trade in our paper on the fate of confiscated live wild animals. This issue was responded to elsewhere (see D 'Cruze & Macdonald, 2017) where we highlighted that in some cases, data assigned to This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
doi:10.1111/conl.12855 fatcat:5zztslwcpfc2nappb6y4hd27d4