Preventing Tarantula Smuggling
December 17, 2010 at 10:31 pm butterflypavilion
The consequences for smuggling wildlife is a federal prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of up to $250,000 – yet that doesn’t deter some people from trying to make a profit. A tarantula dealer was recently caught bringing over 600 tarantulas into the country by the US Department of Fish & Wildlife. Many of these tarantulas were the species Brachypelma smithi – the Mexican Redknee.
Tarantulas like the Mexican Redknee face a combined threat of poaching for hobbyists, systematic extermination based on fear, and habitat loss. Other tarantulas, such as the Sapphire Gooty Ornamental, an Indian species has been listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) which means that in three generations (about 15-20 years for this animal) their population has dropped to between 1-20% of what it used to be. That means a minimum of 4 out of 5 of these spiders is gone.
Sapphire Gooty Ornamental
No animal simultaneously makes people fall into a category of fear, disgust, or indifference as much as tarantulas. But these misunderstood giants of the arachnid world have a valuable new ally in the Butterfly Pavilion’s Breeding and Conservation Research team!
Just a few short weeks ago, while the aforementioned tarantula dealer was out plucking these already declining tarantula populations from their homes, Butterfly Pavilion zookeepers and researchers (Troy Miller, Chad Haines, and Amber Lynn Partridge) began to switch their captive breeding focus to none other than the Mexican Redknee. The Butterfly Pavilion hopes to be a resource for these spiders, not just for hobbyists, but for educational facilities as well.
Last month the Butterfly Pavilion was able to provide nearly 300 spiders to facilities across the country such as the KSU department of entomology – making poaching in the wild unnecessary.
Butterfly Pavilion research on tarantula growth is also underway to provide information about tarantula conservation by asking questions like “How fast can they grow? How long before we can turn 2 healthy adult tarantulas into 200 healthy adult tarantulas?”
Answers to these questions are still unknown for most species of tarantulas. What we do know is that the WRI (World Resources Institute) estimates that an average of 100 species of life goes extinct every day. We also know that we’re doing our best to educate others about the importance of conservation and provide them with alternatives because the Butterfly Pavilion and the many people who support our efforts realize the intrinsic value to even the creepiest of crawlies.
By Zookeepers: Troy Miller, Chad Haines, and Amber Lynn Partridge
Entry filed under: Entomology. Tags: Butterfly Pavilion, education, Mexican Redknee, Tarantula, Tarantula Breeding, Tarantula Smuggling.