‘Tis the Season for Giving & Gratitude
I wrote a portion of this WildCat Chat in November 2008 just after the election of Barack Obama. In 2008, we, as a nation were under extreme financial distress: “For many of us the past year has been nothing short of a bumpy ride and we may feel the effects for several years. Despite the turbulence we collectively decided to give ourselves and our country a renewed sense of hope through our newly elected president. Mr. Obama, along with his new administration, will change our present course and steer us into a brighter and prosperous future.”
As I reflect on this writing today, one year after the election of a new (kind of) president, “his” administration is charting a course to undermine the stability of our natural environment in which every living being on this planet needs to simply survive. Not only does his new administration want to “undue” years of environmental protections “it” wants to destroy hard-fought protections gained for the preservation of wildlife and wildlands; a course that most certainly will bring a future of mass destruction. Putting every living being on a trajectory path of irreversible annihilation and “humans” will be the next endangered species. In fact, just last week, a restriction on importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia was lifted. But due to tremendous backlash and public outrage in opposition to his move the ban remains in place pending “further review.”
But I digress. For now, we have not lost our ability to change our course. With the advent of the holidays upon us—‘tis the season for giving and gratitude—to reflect on the past year, show appreciation for what we have and share our bounty large or small.
Likewise, we have not lost our collective ability to protect and defend all wildcats bred in captivity or taken legally or illegal out of the wild for commercial purposes. I admit, economics is a tough, touchy subject but one relatively simple aspect of it is supply and demand. If there is no consumer demand for particular goods or services then the supply side will eventually cease. The recent closing of circus companies followed by counties, states and foreign countries banning the exhibition of wild animals in these venues is an excellent achievement and example of how raising awareness of the incredible acts of cruelty inflicted on wild animals and lack of attendance (demand) cut off the performances (supply). Simple.
Next is the demand for particular goods. If there is no consumer demand, here too the supply side will cease. Unfortunately, the demand for wildcat goods remains: trophies, bones, fur and skin for garments or rugs, medicine, wine, meat or live cats for the exotic pet trade and other forms of entertainment; the supply will be met even it means killing the last remaining cats in the wild or breeding them on “farms.”
Wildcat goods are “luxury items” that are advertised for use in “decorating your home, office or lodge,” or to “wear on the slopes or for that quick trip to the mall,” or to “sashay on a leash.” Here are just a few examples I found doing a cursory search on the internet:
Women’s Lynx fur jacket (short or vest) $2,000 to $5,000 (Did you know it takes at least 20 or more lynx to make one short jacket?)
Mountain lion rugs with head, paws, and tail $3,500 to $9,000
Bobcat and lynx pelts $150 to $600
Wildcat skulls, bones, claws $90 to $2,500
Caveat emptor: There are numerous products and live cats sold in the U.S., over the internet, and overseas that are illegal. Do you know the laws involved with buying and selling wildcat goods? Consumer trade in certain wildcat goods are illegal: whether you buy directly in the U.S., whether you ship it out of the state in which it was purchased, and more complicated if you purchase and or ship from or to a foreign country. (Yes, that includes Canada and Mexico).
Please don’t be fooled: The sale and purchase of wildcat goods and live cats does not in any way, shape or form facilitate conservation of the species or their natural habitats. It is purely a commercial industry. Corporations and individuals are profiting from these transactions and not wild animals and their habitats.
Sellers of wildcat goods state they will cater to your “every need” but wildcat goods are not a necessity. We don’t need them to sustain our lives. Wildcat goods are luxury items that we “want.” We don’t need a lynx fur coat or a mountain lion rug. There is no magical healing quality to eating or consuming wildcat meat or organs, medicines containing tiger, lion or leopard bone, or drinking tiger or lion wine (made from marinating a tiger or lion carcass in a vat of wine).
We can instead choose to indulge in an abundance of high quality alternative materials and ingredients readily available that pose no threat to our health, safety, environment, and of course the wildcats.
Our world is becoming smaller and smaller and all of our natural resources are depleting at rapid rates; even more so if the current administration is successful in reversing environmental protections—protections that are designed to ensure a healthy “living” future for all. It is all more poignant now to end our “over-consumptive” nature and understand our “wants” versus “need.” It will catch up with us and we will no longer have a choice.
By just simply being informed and conscientious consumers, during the holiday season and throughout the years to come, together we can very easily end the demand for any and all wildcat goods and in doing so end the brutal supply chain.
On behalf of the WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society ~ Wishing all a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season! Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward all Wildcats!
Lisa Ann Salamat, Esq., Chief Executive Officer, WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society