Re: NANFA-- Collecting ethics

Steffen Hellner (
Wed, 14 Jan 2004 13:42:12 +0100

> Even though I think that this discussion has gone on long enough, I would
> like to point out that butterflies and beetles are often severely
> over-harvested by hobbyists and persons supplying the hobbyist market.
I cannot say you are wrong on butterflies and beetles. Some as the Blue
Morpho are really under pressure from collecting (illegal but still done).
But many of these species are bred commercially in the tropics or by
hobbyists in rather large numbers. The price of course still is an argument
as well as the thrill of "wild collected" specimen.

> Another hobby that endangers species is the collecting of orchids. Also in
> a similar vein, the collecting of cactuses and succulents can be
> debilitating to natural populations. These plants can be severely impacted
> by collecting by hobbyists or those supplying the hobby.
I don4t agree. I can show you photos of huge hills of orchids cut from trees
by logging in Brazil. It4s the same elsewere. The amount collected is not a
percent of a promille of what is wasted by logging and fire roding. Finally
the consequences in most countries of origin are extremely hard if caught in
action. The prosecution will lead to high money pyments or even prison. Not
really nice in most countries. And collectors cannot harvest that many. Even
the rarest orchids are cultivated as wild forms e.g. in Holland. I have
visited a farm for that and was deeply impressed of what and how much they
have. In Hawaii there are the biggest cultivators worldwide I think.

> Fungus collectors are often blamed for over-harvesting the objects of their
> desire.
I would rather collect a mushroom than a fungus (antibiotics will help!;-))
Over here the decline of mushrooms is seasonal or caused by logging.
Collectros are not blamed at all and collecting is fairly free except some
exceptionally rare species. Maybe different elsewhere.

> A few minutes of research online should prove these ascertains to be true.
Or rather the opposite.

> The removal of any animal or plant from the environment should involve
> considerations. Birdwatchers even are aware that observing wildlife can
> alter behavior. Many rare birds get driven off territory or nests by being
> overly disturbed by those folks who like to chase rarities that are "staked
> out."
Oh yes, but these are the good guys! I once wanted to go for black mosquito
larvae around a lake with cormorans (these ugly fishing birds which
reproduce like pigeons in the city). One of these volunteers chased me as
sson as she saw my net. But she didn4t want to follow me through the swamp.
Great naturalists, really. You can be right that they do more harm than a
little collecting ever could.

> Personally, when I collect, I follow all the rules, and I try to collect
> species that are exotic to my area, or are extremely abundant. If possible
> I try to collect from fish stranded in pools isolated by receding waters.
> These animals are doomed anyway, and their removal should not impact the
> population, although it may deprive herons and raccoons a bit of food.
I always follow the rules as well. Not the easy way especially in Brazil
where it is close to impossible to get the permit. Had them twice and this
took really some time and efforts. And especially in foreign countries it is
a sign of respect following their laws and regulations. I wouldn4t like
anybody from foreign countries to come collecting around my house without
permit or license, too.

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