Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Froggie Food Fights Foreshadowed

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012


Here are a couple of stories on a growing problem, or at least an always-evolving problem, the use of reptiles and amphibians as human food.  

Popular among Asians and re-located rednecks, bullfrogs in San Francisco are bringing in the chytrid virus, a deadly amphibian disease that is wiping out frogs around the world.  Here’s a well-written piece on the bullfrog dining issue by John Upton via NY Times Blog.  For more on the virus or on frogs in general go to Kerry Kriger’s comprehensive Save the Frogs, and remember April 28 is Save the Frogs Day (which doesn’t, of course, mean leftovers).

The Washington Post recently had this story on the sale of live animals in Asian supermarkets–live crayfish, eel, bass, bullfrogs, etc.–which are often raised on farms.   The Virginia state agent is wrong when he says in the story that history shows when wildlife is commercialized the population dwindles.  History shows that when wildlife is taken from the wild on a commercial scale its population dwindles, but when wildlife is farmed, as is the case with the species in the story, that is not always the case.   It depends how valuable the animal is price-wise, its reproduction rate, commitment of law enforcement, and the viability of its wild population:  rabbits are better farmed, tigers are not.  American alligators, once on the verge of extinction and now prolific and widely farmed, make a great case study.  They do not, however, make for especially good eating.

My own version of these stories occurred at a pet store not long ago.  I was looking at a pair of red-eared slider turtles swimming around a tank.  An Asian woman standing next to me said to her boyfriend, “They’re so cute.  I just want to take them home and have them for lunch.”  I have heard the same thing about lobsters in Maine, sans the cute part.


Sun Shines on Wildlife Trade

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

 I am often asked what an individual can do to protect wildlife or otherwise to address the illegal wildlife trade.  One answer is to become aware of what you are buying, where it came from, and how it was procured.  Another answer is to take up a pen (or keyboard) and write.  The Internet can be a boon to wildlife protection and better government.  Here is a letter running this week in Malaysia, from The Sun:

Do more to protect wildlife
(Mon, 29 Mar 2010)
The Sun

I REFER to “Failure at Doha heard around the globe” (Speak Up, March 29). Eric Margolis is correct to state that consumers need to make their power felt to protect wildlife.

I would like to share my two cents worth on our failure to protect our own wildlife. In January, National Geographic ran a story, “The Kingpin“, on a major wildlife trader who was based in Penang, and his alleged working relationship with a high level government officer in the Wildlife Department.

According to the writer, Bryan Christy, the relationship enabled the man to expand his business to export endangered wildlife illegally. This story was the cover story on several regional editions of the magazine.

As I was reading the article, I was thinking that the government must surely react to the article as it focuses on the failure of the Malaysian system in protecting its own wildlife. Instead, (more…)

Atlantic City Press: You Can Go Home Again

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

The AC Press ran this story today.  Writer Juliet Fletcher focused on my experience growing up and laughed when I told her how important reptiles were to us as children.  “I’ve heard that from other people here,” she said. 

On the trail of animal smugglers
A childhood passion for reptiles sets author on the trail of ‘The Lizard King’
By JULIET FLETCHER Staff Writer, 609-272-7251
(Published: Wednesday, March 18, 2009)

When Bryan Christy used to trade reptiles between his friends in Millville, he knew how to hold them, show them off and learned the values of creatures as if they were baseball cards. As he put it, “A pickerel frog got you a box turtle.”

But as his prize snake, a pet Burmese python, grew to a staggering 14 feet, he never stopped to ask where such reptiles hailed from.

“I had no idea,” he said Monday. “That was the great unanswered mystery.”

His first book, “The Lizard King,” due in paperback this summer, goes to the heart of that question, tracking the story of a well-known animal dealer, Mike van Nostrand, and a multimillion-dollar ring of traffickers who bring in illegal creatures, including rare and endangered species to the U.S. But Christy, who lived in southern New Jersey until he moved away for school, explains how the urge to write the book originated with those unlikely childhood pets. (more…)