3. Consumers

How do we stop consumers from supporting the wildlife trade? Do they know about or think of the repercussions of their actions in the first place?

As seen previously, many consumers buy exotic animals to have as pets as a status symbol and others because they believe in the medicinal properties of the animal parts. Most of these animals are shipped off to countries far away from Indonesia. As we are “prisoners of experience”, which means to say that we more biased towards the things we have experienced or can recall more easily, it would be difficult for people to appreciate the gravity of the endangerment and extinction of wildlife. After all, how often do we come into contact with wild animals? Even if we have, loss of these animals would probably only affect us emotionally for a while before apathy sets in again as other things more salient to us come into our lives. The link between the animal’s and the Earth’s welfare in general and how that would affect humans should be made clear to consumers so that they get a better understanding of the situation and would probably be more aware of the repercussions of their actions.

Some ways that consumers can be made to be more aware of or at least feel for the plight of the animals is to conduct camps or eco-tours as campaigns to expose them to the wilderness. People have reported feeling much closer to nature and these feelings last for a while. By making these experiences more salient for people, they may be more likely to think twice before purchasing an exotic animal. They can also be educated about the restorative effects of nature and all its other wonderful benefits to make them personally meaningful. When these people are encouraged to contribute to certain conservation programmes and they do, they feel like they have a stake and a responsibility in it as well.

Many people today keep pets and their relationship with pets tend to be bidirectional. Most pet owners have a rather strong emotional bond with their pets. Using this factor, people can be taught to see the similarities between their pets and the wildlife and so be more unwilling to play any part in the harming of animals.