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Indonesian Breeding Plan Facilitates Wildlife Laundering

05 July 2017 | TRAFFIC International News Release

Jakarta, Indonesia, 3rd July 2017—A new study has questioned the validity of Indonesia’s  plan that allowed breeders to produce over four million animals in captivity for trade in 2016.

The Captive Breeding Production Plan (CBPP) establishes quotas for the species and number of mammals, reptiles and amphibians that can be bred by licenced commercial breeding farms in the country.

For 2016, the Plan applied to 13 captive breeding facilities, 129 mammal, reptile and amphibian species with a total of 4,273,029 animals to be produced through captive breeding.

However, a critical scrutiny of the Plan published today in Conservation Biology finds major flaws that permit the laundering of wild-caught animals into legal trade through falsely claiming they have been captive-bred.

Among the flaws highlighted in Biological parameters used in setting captive breeding quota for Indonesia’s breeding facilities, is the exaggerated inflation of the breeding capabilities of many animals—for one frog species the Plan sets a quota 67 times higher than the animal would have been able to produce naturally.

Researchers even found that quotas had been set for two species where no breeding stock was present in any of the country’s registered breeding facilities, nor did some quotas take into account how difficult it was to breed certain species in captivity.

In the case of 38 species, the Plan allowed for the production of more animals than the authorities’ own calculations said was possible, the study reported.

“Until these shortcomings have been fixed, Indonesian mammals, reptiles and amphibians declared as captive-bred cannot be assumed to be so, as they may have been sourced from the wild,” the study’s authors conclude.
Researchers compared the biological parameters used in the CBPP against information gathered from over 200 published sources. Comparison was also made against information in a database on species life histories and species experts for all 129 species including how often species bred, and clutch or litter sizes.

The study found that Indonesia’s captive breeding quotas for 21 mammal species, 38 reptile species and two amphibian species were unrealistically high. For these mammals, quotas were set up to nine times higher than would be realistically possible, up to five times higher for the reptiles and up to 67 times higher for the amphibians.

For example, according to the Plan, the Red-eyed Crocodile Skink Tribolonotus gracilis can produce five to 12 eggs, twice a year, but published information reports only a maximum of six eggs a year.

“It is essential for countries to have such plans to regulate commercial captive breeding, but they must have a sound scientific basis and use accurate calculations,” said Serene Chng, co-author and Programme Officer for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

“The plan’s numbers are far higher than breeding facilities can realistically produce. The resulting gaps can easily be exploited by unscrupulous traders to launder wild-sourced animals through breeding facilities. This undermines legitimate breeders and increases pressure on wildlife already threatened by poaching and illegal trade,” Chng added.

At least 75 of the species in the Plan are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which allows captive breeding of some species for international trade.

CITES has recognized the misdeclaration of wild species as captive bred as a problem and has put in place a regulatory mechanism to flag cases of suspected captive breeding fraud. The mechanism is expected to be used for the first time in its Animals Committee meeting later this month.

“The questions raised by this analysis should be a real concern for countries importing wildlife labelled as captive bred from Indonesia and for the credibility of commercial captive breeding as a whole,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Senior Programme Manager for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

The study recommends the Indonesian Government adjust the Plan to include all relevant factors influencing breeding success and for projections to be biologically realistic. Quotas for species for which no breeding stock is available need to be withdrawn. Regular, unannounced inspections and audits of breeding facilities also should be conducted to ensure that reported numbers match up in reality.

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