Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The NZ Series #4 - The Possum and the Beret

The common brushtail possum was introduced to New Zealand by European settlers in an attempt to establish a fur industry.
They soon escaped into the wild, where they have thrived as an invasive species with great numbers: there are around 70 million individuals estimated in 2009. There are no native predators of the possum in New Zealand. There have been numerous attempts to eradicate them, because of the damage they do to native trees and wildlife, as well as acting as a carrier of bovine tuberculosis. For New Zealand, the introduction of possums has resulted in as much of an ecological disaster as the introduction of rabbits has been in Australia.

Since 1996, efforts have been made to use possum fur in clothing. A blend of Australian brushtailed possum fur with merino wool was developed by Untouched World, a New Zealand fashion label. The product is called merinomink, eco-possum, possumdown, eco fur or possum wool, and accounts for 95% of all commercially caught possum fur. Possum fur is also used for fur trim, jackets, bed throws, and possum leather gloves and, of course, for Berets NZ Style.
One can not say much positive here, in NZ, about this little marsupil without getting into big arguments. Sure, the environmental damage caused by possums is enormous, likewise from deer, rats, cats, dogs and many other species introduced here by mankind over the years, but for me, there is still a big difference in using hair-for-wool-for-berets, or using the skin for a toy like this:

Who on Earth would buy this for their children?

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