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Porcupines become fashion victims in
South Africa's porcupines are being slaughtered so their quills
can be turned into tourist souvenirs, an animal welfare group
said on Sunday.
"Porcupines are being hunted wholesale for the fashion market
and nobody has any idea how many are being killed," said
Christina Pretorius of the International Fund for Animal Welfare
"The craze for porcupine products has really taken off over the
last three years and we worry about the impact on the porcupine
Quills are used in tourist products such as pens and lampshades
in a new, unregulated industry, Pretorius said.
They are also used by some designers to convey an Afro-centric
flair. "They have a big appeal to the fashion industry. You see
them in jewellery and as hair ornaments."
The Sunday Independent newspaper said porcupines were also
increasingly being targeted by trophy game hunters who will pay
$100 to shoot one.
IFAW has launched a "Think Twice" programme to encourage
visitors not to buy souvenirs made from wild animals, including
elephant hair bracelets and illegal ivory objects.
In a report on the porcupine quill industry released this year,
IFAW said the Cape porcupine, which inhabits most of sub-Saharan
Africa, was regarded as vermin by farmers which made it
difficult to win support for the animal.
Porcupine burrows create obstacles for farm vehicles, and some
porcupines bite through fencing and gnaw into water pipes. As a
result, hunting of porcupines has become indiscriminate, the
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porcupine quills sell at around 2 rand (28 U.S. cents) in retail
outlets and traders often deal in shipments of tens of thousands
"A lampshade, for example, requires many quills of identical size
and similar markings. You are not going to get that off one
animal, a decent lampshade may take the quills off 200 or 250
porcupines," Pretorius said.
Porcupines give birth to only one litter of one to four young each
year and numbers could therefore drop rapidly even if it is listed
as protected under new biodiversity regulations.
"It has happened before," Pretorius said. "Italy's porcupine
population was almost shot out entirely -- for the cooking pot."