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Old 03-30-2008, 10:16 PM   #1
Some things about wild tegus you might not want to know.

Warning, do not read this if you do not want to know what happens in the leather trade with tegus!!

Tegus are heavily exploited for their skins in Argentina. Each year, more than 1,250,000 skins are exported from Argentina to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan, and several European countries. Most of them in the US are shipped to Texas for the leather trade. The ones shipped to the US are destined to become cowboy boots, belts, wallets and purses.

The trade of these skins is important to the Argentine economy. The export value of the resource is worth millions of dollars annually, and for rural peoples in Argentina with low wages or intermittent employment, tegu hunting is a significant source of income. However, the top dollar for these hides is $4.00 US, there are three grades, the finest ones bring $4.00, the medium grade bring $2.00, and the grade three bring $1.00.

One $4.00 hide is equivalent to a day's wages for a farm hand. Additionally, about half the families eat the meat; it is very hard to obtain with the low wages. Tegu fat is also collected, it is highly valued for medicinal purposes, however, and there is no proof that the fat has any special medical value.

The hunting season corresponds with the activity of the lizards, this is done in the seasons the animals are most active (spring and summer). Hunters use trained dogs to track the lizards to their burrows, occasionally the dogs jump an active lizard and chase it to a hallow log or a hole in the ground where they are dug out and captured alive. Baited hooks are another method used to capture tegus, often times these are set along riverbanks.

Once killed, the lizards are skinned from the dorsal side, leaving the ventral plates intact. Skins can be sold directly to the tanneries, but more often the skins pass through middlemen, some of these hides are stretched to bring the higher-grade price. The hides are dried and moved to market. Some places it is legal to hunt, trap and sell these hides and animals. Argentina being one of them, there are also many hides and animals transported from areas that they are not legally obtained from, these are carried across the borders to regions that are legal to trade and sell them.

Argentina is signatory to CITES, and Tegu skins leave the country with CITES export permits according to appendix II rules. This means the skins must be tanned or semi-tanned before export. This makes them legal to export, and not regulated by the CITES laws and facilitates monitoring. This makes this an open industry and gives them the freedom to continue the harvest of these animals.

There is much controversy over the harvesting of these animals; the governments are trying to find a way to regulate the trade of these animals and skins. There are many fears that the animals are being over harvested, and concerns that the numbers of wild tegus are on the decline.

Please keep in mind what I stated about the average income to a farm worker, he can make $4.00 a day working at a farm, but on a good day of hunting tegus he can collect 12 hides, if they are 12 good hides he has the same amount as if he worker 12 days at hard labor on a farm. He also would be collecting meat for his family, something that is very expensive at the market based on his pay rate as a farm hand.

As much as I hate to know this about tegus, it is about them and is part of the information on these animals. I do hate that they are collected for hides and food, but I also realize they are found in very poor countries, and people are doing what they need to do for survival. Like it or not, this is some more facts about tegus.
Old 04-03-2008, 08:02 PM   #2

Hello Bobby!

Yeah I knew that they were exploited but that is just so sad. I understand about them needing to survive though, but it is just heartbreaking when animals have to pay the price with their lives.


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