Anyone in the leather industry who has a wish or need to identify specific lizard and snake species would do well to acquire a copy of a new book entitled: Die Reptilhaut – The Reptile Skin. In both German and English, this hardback book focuses on the use of 60 lizard and snake species relevant to the leather industry.

By Karlheinz & Manuel Fuchs, the subtitle of this heavily illustrated handbook is: A key-feature in the Identification of lizards and snakes. There are 408 pages which include 64 colour and more than 200 black and white pictures.

The foreword has been provided by Dr and Professor Dietrich Jelden, head of Germany’s CITES Management Athority, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation. He begins his preface with the words: ‘One of the most worrying developments in our natural environment on earth is the worldwide decline in our biodiversity which can be clearly attributed to manmade influences since the 20th Century. According to current estimations of the scientific community hundred thousands of animal and plant species could become extinct in the next coming 50 years.’

He lays the decimation at the door of destruction of habitats as well as the international trade in many wildlife species as, for instance, the leather gained from many reptilians.

As a result of this CITES, the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, was founded more than 25 years ago. Although many reptile species are already afforded protection under the convention, the majority of reptile species involved in international trade are not protected at all.

Since, in many cases, it is difficult to distinguish between the protected and the non-protected, this book will make a significant contribution towards the identification of products made from reptile leather.

Karlheinz Fuchs has gained an international reputation based on his scientific research in taxonomy as well as in tanning technology. His son, Manuel, as the officially nominated expert for CITES for the German Ministry for Environment, has successfully followed in his father’s footsteps.

The Reptile Skin was published recently by Chimaira Buchhandelsgesellschaft, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-930612-36-4 and is priced at €49.80.