Posted on 09 August 2022
August 9th, 2022: WWF Japan has launched a Social and Behavior Change (SBC) campaign aiming to discourage consumers from keeping exotic pets, which pose several risks including: to the conservation status of the species; the risk of unwittingly being drawn into the illegal pet trade; risks to public health through disease spillovers; as well as animal welfare and invasiveness concerns.
The campaign follows an in-depth consumer survey conducted last year for WWF Japan and TRAFFIC by GlobeScan to understand consumers' attitudes and motivations toward exotic pets.
The campaign will engage major zoos in Japan, providing critical information to the public about the risks of smuggling these animals into the country as well the practical challenges that come with keeping exotic pets including threatened species, with the hopes of dissuading those who would consider buying them.
Japan is one of the largest markets in the world for exotic pets with a wide range of species traded for this purpose such as the Asian small clawed otter, grey parrot, the snowy owl and Indian star tortoise.
Poaching in the wild for the pet trade is a major contributor to the decline in population numbers of several species. The growing appetite globally for exotic pets and its role in accelerating biodiversity loss is why the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) regulates the trade. Many of the affected species, including several popular exotic pets in the Japanese market will be the subject of deliberations at the 19th Conference of Parties to CITES, which will be held in November in Panama.
Yoko Asakawa, Programme Officer at WWF Japan and TRAFFIC says: “It is important not only to strengthen regulations and transform the pet industry, but also to change consumer’s attitudes and behavior. We need measures that go beyond raising public awareness to really addressing the psychosocial factors that often influence those who intend to keep exotic pets.”
Ayumi Hayasaki, Communication Officer in WWF Japan says: “The results of the 2021 consumer survey revealed several interesting findings about the perceptions, attitudes, and psychology of ‘Intenders’ (defined in the study as people who do not own one or more of the taxa defined as “exotic” but intend to do so in the foreseeable future). For instance, conveying practical and real-life messages about the ‘challenges’ involved with keeping such animals is more effective than communicating other risks associated with keeping these pets, and the campaign has been designed to reflect these findings.”