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Differentiating real and imitation furs Developed by the CITES Secretariat GreenCustoms Knowledge Series No. 5.

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Presentation on theme: "Differentiating real and imitation furs Developed by the CITES Secretariat GreenCustoms Knowledge Series No. 5."— Presentation transcript:

1 Differentiating real and imitation furs Developed by the CITES Secretariat GreenCustoms Knowledge Series No. 5

2 Questions to answer What furs and skins are internationally traded? How can real fur be differentiated from fake fur? What about 'counterfeit' furs, when fur of one species is altered to look like another? Is there an easy way to differentiate bobcat skins from similar species?

3 Introduction Mammal skins (leather, fur) and products (hair, wool) are widely traded, and their identification is made difficult by the range of species involved, the various types of processed and unprocessed specimens in trade, and the variability of the species themselves

4 4 Furs and mammal skins Types of furs and skins in international trade: –Raw (dried) or tanned furs (clothing) –Raw (dried) hides or tanned skins (leather) –Hunting trophies (mounted or un-mounted skins) –Curio pelts –Items made with leather, furs –Hair, wool

5 5 Furs and mammal skins Main groups in trade –'Traditional' furbearers (beaver, chinchilla, ermine, fox, marten, mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, sable, seal, wolverine etc.) –Primates (colobus monkey) –Small cats (leopard cat, margay, ocelot) –Large cats (bobcat, cheetah, jaguar, leopard, lynx, snow leopard, tiger) –Civets –Bear –Peccary –Wolf, coyote –Unusual leathers (elephant, pangolin, rhinoceros) –Processed fur (Tibetan antelope, vicuna)

6 6 Fake and counterfeit skins Differentiating real from fake –Raw or tanned whole skins will have a an irregular shape and include parts such as tails, legs etc., as well as imperfections or collection marks –Cut pieces may be irregular in size, but will clearly show a leather base –Fake fur is usually made from polyester or acrylic materials

7 7 Fake and counterfeit skins Differentiating real from fake (garments) –Push apart the fur to look at the base Real fur will have a skin/leather base that is whitish, or possibly dyed the same color as the fur Fake fur will have a cloth or woven base –If the base is not clearly visible on a garment, try to see the underside of the 'fur', perhaps by undoing some stitching

8 8 Fake and counterfeit skins Differentiating real from fake (garments) –If the fur has not been sheared, look at longer guard hairs under a magnifying glass Real fur will be tapered towards the tip, fake fur will be of the same diameter throughout –Remove a few hairs and, well away from the specimen, subject the loose hairs to a flame Real fur will smell like burned human hair, fake fur will not

9 9 Fake and counterfeit skins Differentiating real from fake (garments) –Experience is a real help –Fake fur does not have the look, feel, sheen or other qualities of natural fur Real Imitation

10 10 Fake and counterfeit skins Counterfeit skins may be real skins, but are not the species claimed by traders or identified on documentation, labels or other marks –Furs of common species (e.g. domestic cat, rabbit, dog, goat) are dyed or hand-colored to resemble rare species (e.g. counterfeit tiger pelts) –Cowhide is pressed / embossed with a pattern resembling rare species (e.g. elephant)

11 11 Fake and counterfeit skins Pressed cow leather sold as 'genuine elephant leather'

12 12 Fake and counterfeit skins Counterfeit tiger skin

13 13 Fake and counterfeit skins Curiously, real fur (often from Asian raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides, non-CITES) may be labeled as 'fake fur' (or 'faux fur') on clothing

14 14 Fake and counterfeit skins Counterfeit skins are generally meant to fool persons who are not familiar with the real item –Low value skins are passed off as high-value skins –NOTE: High value skins are never passed off as low value skins, and high value skins are not likely to be made into 'ordinary' products

15 Differentiating bobcat skins from other similar species

16 16 Cat furs - general Cat fur skins can be differentiated from other furs as follows: –cat fur consists of guard hairs and underfur –guard hairs form a continuous cover which almost hides the underfur –guard hairs are straight –fur covers the tail –whole skin at least 45cm long (adults, without tail) –tail is evenly thick from base to tip, or only slightly tapered –belly has the same color or is lighter than the back –black markings on the upper side are never on a white ground (except domestic cats)

17 17 Cat furs - general The quality of cat furs vary from species to species, according to the number of hairs per cm 2, length of guard hairs, and the ratio of guard hairs to underfur hairs –Cheetah has 2000 hairs per cm 2 –Tiger has 2500 hairs per cm 2 –Lynx has 9000 hairs per cm 2 Lynx

18 Differentiating bobcat and lynx Bobcat specimens are similar in appearance to skins, parts and products of other small spotted cats, including the Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus, the Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx, the Canada lynx Lynx canadensis and the Mexican bobcat Lynx rufus escuinapae The skins are so similar that small pieces cannot be distinguished even using forensic laboratory analysis

19 19 Differentiating bobcat and lynx Known uses of lynx and bobcat skins: –Canada Lynx Lynx canadensis fur –Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx fur, trophies –Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus Appendix I, extremely rare, no trade known –Bobcat Lynx rufus fur –Mexican bobcat Lynx rufus escuinapae trophies

20 20 Differentiating bobcat and lynx With black-tipped tails –Canada lynx Lynx canadensis –Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx –Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus With white on tails (at least on the underside) –Bobcat Lynx rufus –Mexican bobcat Lynx rufus escuinapae

21 Differentiating bobcat and lynx Canada lynx Bobcat Note the black- tipped tail Note the presence of white on the tail

22 Differentiating bobcat and lynx The greatest conservation danger may be posed by mistaking fur pieces from the extremely rare Eurasian lynx with the common and commercially-traded bobcat Bobcat Eurasian lynx

23 Differentiating bobcat and lynx It is true that bobcat fur pieces cannot be differentiated from pieces from the other lynx species But why would anyone want to pass off a rare and highly valuable item as coming from a common species that has low commercial value? It is highly unlikely that this would ever occur, and there is no reason to believe that Eurasian lynx would ever be passed off as the common bobcat

24 24 Summary A wide variety of furs and skins are internationally traded Real fur can be differentiated from fake fur by careful examination of the base of the 'hairs', and other clues 'Counterfeit' furs are meant to fool users into believing another species, or a synthetic, is used Whole bobcat skins can be easily identified by the presence if white on the tail, but cut pieces cannot be reliably differentiated from similar species The rarity and high value of similar species suggests that these would never be traded as low-value bobcat

25 CITES Secretariat Geneva


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