Even illegal wildlife trade happens on Facebook
Thanks to its lack of monitoring enforcement
Jan 23, 2018
Thousands of endangered crocodiles, turtles, and snakes were illegally traded in the Philippines from July to August 2016. The swift transaction between unauthorized traders was credited to Facebook, their main marketplace. It turns out the social networking site helps various people (including propagandists) and businesses (including illicit ones).
“In just three months, researchers recorded 2,245 unique live reptile advertisements representing 115 taxa and a minimum of 5,082 individual animals posted in 90 Facebook groups,” wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic said in their report published on Friday.
“Facebook is the platform of choice for illegal traders in the Philippines because of its popularity and insufficient internal monitoring enforcement,” writes the report.
“Most deals were closed via Facebook Messenger, away from any prying eyes, making it difficult for effective monitoring of illicit online activity.”
Over half the species recorded by this watchdog were protected by international law and the Philippine Wildlife Act. The researchers also found that at least 80 percent of the online traders “could be deemed involved, knowingly or otherwise, in illegal trading activities.”
That would mean jail time for them especially with records showing that the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s Biodiversity Management Bureau never issued permits to collect reptiles for commercial use. Native species such as the critically endangered Philippine crocodile and Philippine forest turtle are among them.
On the other hand, Facebook is now working with Traffic to solve this problem.
Last year, the National Bureau of Investigation used these findings to organize raids on suspected illegal traders. It resulted in numerous arrests in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pangasinan, and Cebu. Customs authorities also seized packages with illegal wildlife destined for China, Sweden, and the U.S.
Photos courtesy of Mongabay and Ultimate Exotic
Header image courtesy of Agence France-Presse
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