November 10, 2023, 12:45–13:45
Room Auditorium 4 (First Floor - TSE Building)
Wildlife trade is a multibillion-dollar industry. It can be legal or illegal and is in part fueled by the demand for exotic pets. Japan has a long history of importing wildlife products and is an important consumer of exotic pets. Our previous study recorded 137 active Exotic Animal Cafés (EACs; places where visitors can view or pet exotic animals) in 2019 counting 419 exotic animal species and several thousands of individuals. Key findings showed that: 40% of these cafés were owl cafés; 30% advertised animal buying options; 12% of the species exhibited were threatened with extinction; and 30 species were wild-caught, ranched or farmed. We argued that these EACs, promoted through social media, may have consequences for biodiversity, global health and animal welfare. We now want to reassemble the Japanese wildlife trade chain by going beyond and one link above EACs. This can be done by focusing on Exotic Animal Dealers (EADs) who have direct wildlife import/export connections and who are keys in the exotic pet distribution to consumers. Our specific goals are to 1) assess the diversity of taxa/species proposed by EADs, their source (e.g. captive-bred, wild-caught) and origin (country); 2) compare findings with the CITES importation data for Japan and the Japanese legislation; 3) establish health and welfare criteria of the animals displayed; and 4) mediate results to the public. By doing so, our project strives to promote informed decision-making in addressing the multifaceted concerns about the exotic pet trade in Japan.