Animal conservation activists called on consumers not to buy furs and fur products imported from China, where nearly 70,000 fur-bearing animals, including foxes, rabbits and martens, were slaughered every year to meet market demand.
The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said consumers, lured by the unbelievably low prices of fur and leather products from China, might unknowingly become accomplices to the abuse and slaughter of animals.
EAST said many shoppers have the misconception that all fur and leather products are expensive, and therefore have no qualms about buying cheap fur and leather products from China, thinking these products must be synthetic. However, EAST stressed that a great quantity of real fur and leather products are imported from China at rock-bottom prices annually, and are sold at low prices in night markets or at clothing shops.
"Consumers might buy a larger number of fur and leather products, thinking that cheap fur or leather ornaments could not have come from real animals," said Chen Yuh-min, the director of the EAST.
According to the U.K.-based animal welfare and conservation organization, Care for the Wild International, millions of foxes, raccoon dogs and other wild animals suffer horrendous conditions on Chinese fur farms before being forced to die with great suffering, and even being skinned alive.
EAST Director Chen Yu-min said prices of China's fur export products are relatively low - less than NT$400 per kilogram on average.
In comparison, Spain exported six kilograms of furs last year and each kilo was priced at more than NT$83,000 in customs clearance, Chen noted. Furs from Belgium averaged NT92,500.
Compared with the declared price of NT$16,000 per kilogram for fur and leather hats imported from France, the price for hats imported from China is only NT$261.76 per kilogram, according to the Directorate General of Customs.
Most importantly, according to the DGC, Taiwan imported 17,000 kilograms of fur and leather products from January to October last year and about 77 percent of the imports came from China.
Calculated on the criteria of each fur weighing 0.256 kg, it was assessed that over 68,000 fur-bearers were slaughtered last year in China to meet the demand of Taiwan consumers who participate unwittingly in the slaughter of the animals.
EAST stressed that since the labels of over 90 percent fur or leather products from China do not provide clear information regarding the source materials, the best way to avoid becoming an accessory to animal abuse is to refuse to purchase all kinds of fur products or products that incorporate fur.
EAST ever released a video last February showing how animals such as martens are skinned alive for their fur in a large-scaled ranch in China.