Would You Still Wear Crocodile Leather If You Knew This?
I like luxurious, beautiful things. A little superficial? Perhaps. I know I can happily live without them yet feel lucky to enjoy some of them. For me, something cannot be beautiful and cruel at the same time... it just doesn't equate, because as cheesy as it sounds, I view beauty with a holistic lens. So with this in mind, no matter how "trendy" a bag is, if it is made out of crocodile leather, I can't see it as beautiful knowing what I know. Crocodile leather handbags and watch straps are used in high-end luxury goods such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton and can sell for tens of thousands of dollars (yes, up to $50,000 dollars for a bag)! Hermes chief executive, says it can take three to four crocodiles to make just one exclusive handbag, but to see the real cost of these bags I strongly encourage you to watch this short film on the crocodile industry.
Australia has 14 commercial crocodile farms that export an estimated 25 million dollars worth of crocodile leather each year, yet this is only 10% of world crocodile leather, with other countries throughout Asia, Africa, South America and the States also farming crocodiles in factory farms. The current international trade involves over 1 million crocodilian skins per year, exported from about 30 countries. To breed, farms either use captive breeding or ranching, also known as wild harvesting, where they are taken from the wild and then raised and killed in captivity, but both mean raiding nests in the presence of protective mothers to take their eggs - their babies.
They are forced to extremely high density living, in barren cages, with little or no mud or grass for them to hide in. Crocodiles in the wild live over 70 years old, with 2 km radius from each other yet as you can see in the videos, they are literally on top of each other in these leather farms to keep costs down. Farms overseas can have as little staff as 1 person to 30,000 crocodiles to help them run cheaply.
Darwin Crocodile Farm has about 73,000 crocodiles - around half of the crocs in captivity in the Australia. Just like the majority of crocodile farms, they sell their 15,000 killed crocodiles per year exclusively to Louis Vuitton and Hermes. These designers have such high demand for the crocodile leather they have even purchased their own crocodile factory farms down under.
In Australia at around 2-3 years old, the crocodiles are shot in the head to be killed but elsewhere they are cut open while still alive to have their spines removed, rendering them still but alive and in excruciating pain. The farmers openly admit some crocodiles survive the sickening ordeal — known as cervical dislocation — and are seen moving in ice bins alongside the carcass of the other dead animals.
In the Darwin Crocodile Farm's abattoir, the carcass is then skinned into two pieces. The valuable belly, throat and leg skin is removed in one piece and then blasted with a powerful water jet to remove excess flesh. It is then dipped in a chemical, salted and then it is rolled and stored in a chiller. How pretty is that handbag sounding now??
Steve Irwin the late "crocodile hunter" who dedicated his life to raising awareness about wildlife, especially crocodiles, was vocally against crocodile farming and any slaughter of wildlife. You can read in his own words here.
You can go and see these crocodile farms as they are open to the public as "wildlife" parks but as you can read from Trip Advisor, even the general public can see the cruelty.
"Once inside, we were surprised to see large crocodiles restricted to tiny pens not large enough to house them, with a strange green bacteria all over them that the crocs we saw in the wild did not have. There were also a huge number of young crocodiles in cramped conditions. The baby crocodiles (literally hundreds) were being fed rotting chicken heads and swarming all over each other. The stench was vile. It was apparent to us that we were visiting a commercial crocodile farming operation."
If after reading this blog you also feel moved then you can avoid supporting the crocodile trade by
- never buying crocodile leather good-make a point of checking,
- sign PETAS petition and
- Spread the word by sharing this blog, especially with friends who own these bags or watches. They probably have no idea!
This brilliant PETA ad sums it up...
Wild life zoo or jail??