A draft CITES-UNCTAD report on traceability in python snake skins shows that exports of captively bred reticulatus python skins has increased in the last year from 20,000 in 2010 to 96,000 in 2011. Their exports of captively-bred morulus python has increased from 0 in 2011 to 29,500 in 2012.
One reptile expert I spoke to with 40 years experience in the business said that there was “no way you build up the stock so quickly”.
The report I co-wrote on python skin trade last year raised concerns about the 2010 figures as there was no evidence that captive breeding was taking place in Lao. Why then are permits being issues?
Traders we spoke to in the business said that the permits are used to launder illegally harvested pythons from Indonesia where hunters exceed the quota by June. Exporters then use the permits to facilitate the legal trade of these skins. If that is the case, then permits have some economic value – what could this be? Take a ball park figure, say USD10. If all these captive breeding permits from Lao are being issued to help launder trade in illegally caught pythons, then their economic value is around USD1.26m.