Would keeping native animals as pets help lessen the threat to their species?

But they are so cute
While the existing belief is that wildlife should remain in the wild, others believe different. One esteemed biologist anticipates that keeping native Australian wildlife as pets could be detrimental to helping their chances of survival. A palaeontologist from the University of New South Wales, Mike Archer said that not authorizing the public to keep native animals as pets were “potentially a passport to extinction”. Insinuating the Australian wilderness is far less capable than the average human raising native animals.

Though only South Australia and Victoria allow a permit to keep native animals as house pets, contrary to popular belief Archer believes “you wouldn’t be interfering with what’s happening to them in the wild”. Archer also raises the point of preventing many species from extinction if individuals had been allowed to keep wild animals as pets. It is commonly believed that wild animals belong in the wild, allowing nature to take its course, over the years, human interference has caused the extinction of several species. By hunting, overharvesting, introducing invasive species into the wild, polluting and changing forests and wetlands into croplands and urban areas, humans have driven several species to complete extinction.

Taking into consideration raised by Archer, can humans reverse the damage that has already been done? It is difficult to believe that keeping native Australian wildlife as pets can cause a positive impact rather than a hindrance in nature’s course.

Prevention is better than cure
One of many points made by Professor Archer is the extinction of Tasmanian tigers (thylacine). After Tasmanian sheep farmers believed that thylacines were eating their sheep, a bounty was paid between 1888 and 1909 and is believed to be the primary cause behind the extinction as over 4000 thylacines were killed. Archer said “The saddest thing about this whole story was… they were regarded as vermin” further implying the root of the issue was the perception of thylacines amongst people and not because humans weren’t treating wild animals as domesticated ones.

The popularity of bearded dragons and reptiles growing among pet owners, collectors, and zoos as per WA-based reptile catcher Phil Schenberg. Many forget the harsh reality of their ignorance when it comes to owning a reptile species. “Bearded dragons make great pets for beginners. They can be very interactive and quite easy to look after with the right husbandry” said Mike Archer, not taking into consideration that if these wild creatures fall into the wrong hands, they are destined to disappear as many reptiles are legally exported and dried for their mythical medicinal properties.

Most of the reptiles are taken from their homes in the wild for export purposes and for humans to even begin to reverse the effects of this trading would require 420,000 females and 42,000 males: 90,000 incubation containers and 336,000 cages plus food and a plethora of qualified staff. It all seems clear cut on paper but the reality of this would be considering the death rates and the 1.2 million reptiles which are exported.

Admiring from a distance
Although Mike Archer’s love for wild animals leads him to believe their extinction could be prevented by keeping them as pets, people’s track record doesn’t make this idea plausible by any means. All wildlife thrives in its own habitats and has evolved in a way to keep generations of species alive thus far, intruding that would only cause a hurdle for their natural reproduction.

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