NANFA-- Re: nanfa V1 #1894 : Biophilia

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Fri, 09 Jan 2004 05:09:12 -0500

> Date: Thu, 08 Jan 2004 11:32:44 +0100
> From: Steffen Hellner <>
> Subject: Re: NANFA-- Columbia trip gear
> I agree. But often the collecting is seen esp. from "environmentalists" as senseless because they cannot understand the motivation why one wants to keep hellbenders or any other kind of animals at home.

Steffen & Others

It's just like the sport fisherman's view of a native fish hobbyist. That somehow their "use" of a resource is superior to someone with an unconventional taste. At least twice I've had people freak out because I was using a dipnet. And I wonder how that park ranger at Keystone Lake who was ready to write us up for testing water samples would have reacted to previous excursions to collect Banded Killies?

Even though they are on the list of legal bait fish.

As for the environmentalists- and anyone else who thinks our desire to keep fish and herps is strange or "senseless" - they ought to read some of the editorial messages by former AFIH President Philippe de Vosjoli in the late Vivarium Magazine on "biophilia" and "enchantment" and the idea that conservation ought to take an "interdisciplinary" approach inclusive of habitat preservation, captive husbandry and breeding. Some of his ideas included economic herpetoculture of rare tortoises and collectors plants in developing nations- the establishment of "forest nuclei" in urban regions and he highlighted the flaws of CITES and the ESA which enthusiastically seek to stop the international trade of threatened
species but were impotent to address threats within the country or origion- ie habitat destruction and the infamous Asian food markets where there were baskets and boxes brimming with turtles that could not be exported- where some of them might at least end up in the hands of someone with enthusiasm to breed them. And I remember him lamenting the extinction of the Costa Rican Golden Toad from the Monteverde Cloud Forest- if only someone would have allowed some of this spectacular amphibian to be collected and bred- at least in a local zoo- too late to cry now!

Philippe got philosophically deep on the issue of meaningful connections to the natural world and the paths of connection verse separation of Man and Nature. The latter comes to two ideologically opposite poles - the idea of human beings separate from nature as "special creations" endorsed by western religious thought or alien interlopers by those who seem compelled to speak of humans as a blight on the face of the planet and argue that Earth would be better off without us. He argued that a doomsday conservation message was damaging to the cause because it either turns people off or makes them give up hope. Personally I never cared much for doom and gloom in politics or theology.

Too bad the AFIH- American Federation of Herpetoculturalists folded right around the end of the 20th Century. They were a great organization that really pulled for both hobbyists and conservation. They alerted people to changes in laws and rallied members to get involved in the process and also ; alot like NANFA - working to educate members and the public in regard to responsible husbandry and disposition of unwanted pets.

Too bad. Hopefully the positive influence of this organization will live on in the various care guides in the Herpetocultural Library series that can still be found on the shelved of pet store covering the care and maintenance of various categories of herps.

The reason we keep these critters is because they are enchanting to us.
BTW- Steffen is there anyone in Germany breeding the Painted Climbing Salamander- Bolitoglossa respendens?

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