Art, extinction, and the free market

Dave Killion — December 24, 2011

The other white meat?

An unconventional taxidermist is facing up to five years in jail and as much as $250,00 in fines –

” [Enrique Gomez De Molina] pleaded guilty to illegally importing parts from endangered species to make the unique pieces of art after his arrest in November, reports Miami New Times…

The artist had not obtained the required permits to import the animal parts, and police claim De Molina knew what he was doing was illegal as he asked the people he bought them from to wrap them in carbon paper, according to the MN Times.”

Artistic sensibilities aside, why is it a person can’t buy endangered species or their parts? We do that with pigs, cows, and chickens, and as a result, they are in no danger of extinction. If people could make money breeding and selling slow loris, mouse deer, and birds-of-paradise, there would be so many of them that works such as De Molina’s would only be metaphorically criminal.

Comments

Barbara says

Excuse me while I put my jaw back – that was a long drop.

“Why can’t a person buy endangered species or their parts?” Would using them in art help preserve them?

No. Extinction does not result from a shortage of art, it results from habitat loss. Wordwide, every ecological niche is being developed and overpopulated by humanity. “Artists” robbing landscapes of the life forms which evolved there and which are adapted to a particular place, will not do anything for preserving species (nor, I’m sure, do the “artists” intend it to).

The reason cows, pigs and chickens don’t face extinction is that we breed them for food. Indeed, because billions eat them 3 times a day, factory farming to feed these mouths uses up (and pollutes) much of Earth’s natural landscape, thereby causing native wildlife extinction on every continent.

Aside from this, many animals are also hunted to extinction for the exotic species trade. Killing things does not preserve them. Presenting them live in pet shops, or dead in “art,” destroys through artificiality what feeling and knowledge people might have had for diversity of species and the ecologies that produced them through natural selection.

Much cruelty is involved in the capture of wild birds, reptiles and mammals, in the separation of young from mothers, in the transport of the victims and in the cramped dirty housing they receive in captivity. Because they are captured for profit-taking, their exploiters are not going to waste overhead on their upkeep and comfort. Were this to be policed and a trade in exotics legalized, many resources would have to go into inspection and cruelty reports – paid for by the taxpayer.

Nations came together in the 1991 Diversity summit in Rio de Janeiro to help each other preseve habitat and stem the rising tides of extinctions; many of the rules around importation and exportation were agreed upon at that time – your readers might want to google Biodiversity Convention for much more on the reasons behind protecting wildlife from the piracy of the exotics trade.

— January 1, 2012

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