The proposed farm will supply animal leather to make handbags and shoes for the high-end French fashion giant as well as supply the meat industry.
Animal rights campaigners are calling out French fashion giant Hermès for wanting to build one of Australia’s biggest crocodile farms in the Northern Territory
The proposed farm will reportedly hold up to 50,000 saltwater crocodiles and this figure is expected to increase the number of crocodiles farmed for their skin and meat in the Northern Territory by 50 per cent.
ABC reports that Hermès has partnered with Northern Territorian Mick Burns, to buy The Sweet Life, a former fruit farm at Lambells Lagoon, near Darwin for $7.25 million.
According to Burns’ new proposal, the company would be able to produce about 15,000 crocodile skins a year by harvesting crocodile eggs from the wild, with juvenile crocodiles “nurtured to minimise stress and protect their skins,” through a process touted to be sustainable and of the highest standards.
The Guardian report reveals that the NT government has already granted development approval for the project, with plans to install an egg incubator laboratory, a hatchery, and growing pens, as well as wastewater treatment plants and a solar farm.
The project has also been granted environmental approval, and PRI intends to apply for a wildlife trade permit, an Environmental Protection Authority statement sent to the Guardian has revealed.
The development has sparked a huge outcry from animal rights activists, who argue that the proposed farm is ‘cruel’ and ‘unnecessary’.
Advocates told Guardian Australia that farming animals for luxury goods was “no longer fashionable.”
Nicola Beynon, of Humane Society International, said that Chanel, Mulberry and the owners of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger among other brands had adopted animal welfare policies “against using exotic animal skins such as crocodile”.
“Consumers and fashion houses are walking away from animal cruelty as fast as they can,” she said.
“It seems foolish to be investing in an industry that is no longer fashionable.”
‘Fuelling the risk of more pandemics’
PETA Australia added: “Wildlife experts warn that the international trade in the skins of exotic animals for luxury fashion promotes the spread of zoonotic diseases, fuelling the risk of more pandemics like the current one.
“Given the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Northern Territory’s valuable tourism industry, it’s unconscionable that the territory’s government would approve plans for this crocodile farm and risk becoming home to the next potential disease outbreak.”
‘Leave our crocodiles alone’
Social media users also voiced their dissent on the announcement and called on Hermès to reconsider its proposed farm decision.
One person tweeted: “This is hideous – Hermès investing in a massive crocodile farm in Australia to produce meat and skin for fashion. I hope the ghost of Steve Irwin haunts them”
Another added: “At a time when the fur industry is going down, in the name of VANITY, Hermès plans to build Australia’s biggest crocodile factory farm.”
A third commented: “@Hermes_Paris Leave our crocodiles alone # Australia.”
However, a 2017 NT government report commissioned from Ernst & Young labels the crocodile skin producers “as ethical providers” and encourages high-end fashion producers such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton “to purchase local NT farms to secure their supply chain,” since the crocodile farming industry is reportedly worth $106m to the territory’s economy.
Prof Grahame Webb, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature crocodile specialist group, told the Guardian that fashion houses had been “mercilessly attacked” by animal rights activists.
Contrary to reports, crocodile farming has helped fund conservation efforts in the region, Webb added.
“[Those companies] have to get more and more control over their supply chain so that they can guarantee the highest standards,” he said.
“Hermès is a very conservative company – it’s them trying to do the right thing. Australia has an excellent reputation for its crocodile management program worldwide.”
Share this story to let others know about the NT government’s plan to allow Hermès to build one of Australia’s biggest crocodile farms.
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