No animal is exempt from cruelty in Australia—not even crocodiles, with French fashion brand Hermès planning to open a new industrial-scale crocodile farm that will farm and slaughter up to 50,000 animals. Saltwater crocodiles are a national icon and native predator. But these highly intelligent reptiles are also protective, attentive parents, they have complex methods of communication, and amuse themselves by playing with objects and even blowing bubbles. Crocodiles are wild animals who belong in the wild. They also feel pain and fear, and deserve to be protected from suffering and exploitation. Yet footage released earlier this year by the Kindness Project showed the horrors that hundreds of thousands of crocodiles are forced to endure on Hermès farms already operating in Australia. Crocodiles in this industry are exploited even before they are born. Hatched from eggs stolen from wild nests, they are deliberately incubated to produce fast‑growing males to reduce the time between birth and slaughter. Once hatched, they spend the majority of their lives isolated in grow‑out buildings, being held in tiny wire cages and barren plastic‑lined pens filled with fetid water. Despite being known to travel distances of up to 900 kilometres in the wild, these pens give crocodiles little more room than the length of their body to ensure no scratches or damage is done to their profitable skin.
After enduring two to three years of confinement, these animals will be electrocuted, dragged from their pens as their bodies convulse and shot with a bolt gun. Their spinal cords will be severed and a screwdriver forced into their heads to scramble their brains. Their deaths are slow and brutal, with some crocodiles continuing to breathe rapidly and attempting to stand after the ordeal. Because these animals are predominantly slaughtered for their smooth belly skin, up to four crocodiles must endure this suffering just to make one Hermès handbag. That company relies on extreme animal cruelty to sell its handbags to the thoughtless, wealthy minority for thousands of dollars.
We cannot forget that just 50 years ago that saltwater and freshwater crocodiles were threatened with extinction due to commercial hunting. While this led to their protection in 1971 and a recovery in their numbers in the wild, habitat loss and pollution continue to be a threat. Sickeningly, the intensive crocodile farming industry is attempting to capitalise on this by falsely claiming that its intensive farming and slaughter of wild‑born crocodiles is supporting ongoing conservation efforts. Even more shocking is that it is doing this with the support of one of the world's biggest conservation bodies, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which falsely suggests that the intensive farming of animals is a useful conservation tool. Let me be clear, it is an absurd idea that to protect animals they must be killed for handbags. We would never accept an argument that elephants should be farmed for their tusks to save the species, so why would we accept it for crocodiles?
Confining and killing animals for their skin is not conservation; it is simply slaughter. This newest farm is operating at a time when many high‑end fashion brands and their consumers are turning their backs on animal skins. Chanel, Mulberry and the owners of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger recently adopted policies against using exotic animal skins, including those from crocodiles. A life is worth more than any bloody handbag or accessory. With so many sustainable and animal‑friendly alternatives available, there is no need to slaughter any animal for fashion. It is time for the Australian Government to recognise that animal skins are firmly out of fashion. The Government needs to ban this cruel industry. The Australian public hates animal cruelty. It does not want to see wild animals brutally killed en masse. It is time to listen to our communities, take action for hundreds of thousands of suffering animals and put an end to Australia's cruel crocodile farming industry.