India Bans Importation of Reptile Skins, Certain Furs Following Efforts by PETA and Maneka Gandhi

For Immediate Release:
5 January 2017

Nikunj Sharma +91 9910397382; [email protected]
Sachin Bangera +91 9820122561; [email protected]

Exposés Released by PETA India and Its Global Affiliates Show Animals Used for Fur and Leather Suffer Immensely

New Delhi – After hearing from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India about the extreme suffering of reptiles and other animals killed for leather or fur clothing and accessories, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has issued a notification amending India’s trade policy to prohibit the importation of the skins of reptiles and the fur of chinchillas as well as minks and foxes “whole, with or without head, tails or paws”. PETA India first wrote to the Inspector General of Forests in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in 2014 and communicated with Union Minister Maneka Gandhi about banning the importation of all exotic skins and fur products. In 2015, the group met with Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), and urged her to ban the importation of all exotic skins and fur. After this meeting by PETA India and efforts by Gandhi and Gauri Maulekhi of People for Animals, the MoCI sought comments from the MoEFCC, which agreed to ban the importation of certain items, and the DGFT issued the ban.

A copy of the MoEFCC’s letter and the notification issued by the DGFT are available upon request.

“Today, with so many stylish and cruelty-free alternatives available, such as fake snake, mock croc, and faux fur, there’s absolutely no need or justification for wearing animal skins or fur”, says PETA India Government Affairs Liaison Nikunj Sharma. “Animals are not fabric, and we commend the government of India for recognising that fact.”

In December  2016, PETA India released a new  video exposé of crocodile farms in Vietnam – including two farms that say they supply skins to a tannery owned by Louis Vuitton‘s parent company, LVMH, which has not denied the specific allegations – revealing that reptiles lay motionless in thousands of tiny concrete cells, some shorter than their own bodies, for 15 months before finally being slaughtered. Others were jam-packed by the dozens into barren concrete pits. At another farm, workers hacked into thrashing crocodiles’ necks and rammed metal rods down their spines as blood poured from the wounds, and one crocodile was shown still moving after being skinned.

In 2015, PETA India released a PETA US’ exposé of two factory farms in Zimbabwe and one in Texas, USA, that supply crocodile and alligator skins to Hermès-owned tanneries – to create USD $40,000-plus Birkin bags or USD $2,000 watchbands. In India, Hermès has stores in Delhi and Mumbai. On the Texas farm, the necks of reptiles were sawed open – and some animals still moved minutes after they had been attacked with a knife or box cutter in a crude effort to slaughter them. The video footage captured by PETA US investigators at Padenga Holdings’ crocodile farms in Kariba, Zimbabwe – which supply skins for Birkin bags – shows miserable concrete pits, each of which is filled with as many as 220 crocodiles.

Other investigations by PETA India’s global affiliates have shown that snakes are commonly nailed to trees and that their bodies are cut open from one end to the other as they are skinned alive, in the belief that live flaying keeps the skins supple. Their mutilated bodies are then discarded, but because of these animals’ slow metabolism, it can take hours for them to die. Lizards are often decapitated, and some writhe in agony as the skin is torn off them.

Animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages. Fur farmers use the cheapest and cruellest killing methods available, including suffocation, electrocution, gassing, and poisoning. Animals who are trapped in the wild for fur can suffer for days from blood loss, shock, dehydration, frostbite, gangrene, and attacks by predators. Much of the world’s fur also comes from China, where millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and often skinned alive for their fur, and Chinese fur is often deliberately mislabelled as the fur of other animals.

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