Interesting that this thread started with the posting of a science article - from one of the very most respected and prolific academic-herpetology labs in the world, the Shine lab - stating that the retic skin trade, on Sumatra, anyway, is sustainable based on the scientific evidence created over the last 20 years.
I feel the need to repeat this:
2) If wildlife agencies - who always partner extensively with academia, i.e. "the guys best-equipped to establish objective reality" - can't come up with a reasonable, credible scientific ("can a harvest be sustained, demographically speaking?") basis for maintaining excessively restrictive harvest limits - how could CBD or other "environmental" litigants? Emphasis on "can".
3) If you're talking about animal-welfare or philosophical perspectives ("should a harvest be allowed?") then you're talking about a whole different thing. The folks in this category are not environmental organizations in the classical sense. Emphasis on "should". Big difference between can and should.
Can the Sumatran retic-skin trade be done sustainably? Science says "yes, it can
". Animal-welfare organizations don't like this "yes" answer. But really, they are concerned with "should
", not about "can". They aren't scientists or managers, they are animal-welfare organizations.
Managers - and the politicians who govern them - are left to make a call. Politicians have to balance the cans and the shoulds in life. I don't know what the Malaysian authorities have decided to do with their retic wildlife resource; I believe their system of government is more or less democratic. Regardless, people are people - some folks want this, some folks want that, and there are winners and losers in life. Democracy, autocracy, kleptocracy, oligarchy, it doesn't matter which - there's always different people competing for their wants and needs and wishes. Some of them lie. Life is suffering. Yearning for liars to stop lying is a source of suffering. Yearning for an end to the use (lethal or not) of animals to satisfy human needs and wants is a source of suffering. One could try instead to simply live right, say right, and think right, according to one's own moral compass.
Yearn less for foolish things, and one will suffer less, and also cause less suffering to others.
if you understand snake ecology, Yes it is much harder to count snakes then bears or mountain lions. You can almost never count more then a small fraction of any snake population.
The bit about "small fraction" applies to virtually any wildlife population, unless you're talking about some insanely high-intensity program like the Mexican wolf or California condor recovery programs, which have most or all the free-ranging individuals radio-tagged. No, snakes are not harder to count than bears or mountain lions. All are hard, but people can
get good at it, and develop reliable techniques to study them.
Lunch is over, back to work.