It may sound a bit interesting as well as weird to know that the influence of social media has hugely affected the market of illegal wildlife trafficking. With the increasing demand for wildlife and wildlife products around the world, the illegal wildlife trade like other black markets trade has shifted into the universe of social media.
Where is the trade taking place?
After the drugs and weapons trade, wildlife trafficking is the third largest illegal business in the world.
As the physical market is monitored by various authorities, people have taken steps into the online world to trade these species. Many pages and groups operating in the name of ‘pet shops’ are heavily involved in these types of illegal activities. Within the click on the social media search bar, people can easily access and have details regarding the wildlife market.
Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. have become a hub for meeting various traffickers as well as the site for trading and trafficking of wildlife. Along with the advertisement of various wildlife products, social media also gives them access to a global network of traffickers involved in the trade.
Many YouTube channels in the name of content are known to display exotic animals in their channel. This increases your curiosity and desire to have an exotic animal with you. It encourages people to search out possible options to buy that pet. Many pop-up ads also do appear related to the exotic animal trade on YouTube.
The Booming Business of Wildlife
According to the Alliance to counter crime online (AACO) a site largely involved in illegal activities happening on the internet, reports from the 51 Vietnamese traffickers who were involved in the trafficking of more than $53 million dollars worth of tiger parts, rhino horn, ivory, among those about a third of that trafficking took place online in social media apps like Facebook.
The 2020 study by Economics times, showed the various advertisements on Facebook in Brazil and Indonesia were about wild animals trade with an assumed audience of more than 200,000 users.
This illegal trade market really flourished during the time of the COVID-19 crisis with reporting of around 15000 online advertisements per day for the rainforest wildlife trade.
Nepal’s share in online wildlife trafficking
This trade of wildlife in social media has an even share in the black market of Nepal. In the country which is just taking a toddler step in the field of cyber security, it has become a prime target for traffickers embracing illegal wildlife and body parts trade.
Various pages and groups on Facebook and other social media have been actively involved in such activities.
According to the article published in Kathmandu Post on January 9, 2021, it shows several social media pages sell wild animals’ meat along with their trade.
The trade and consumption of meat of wild boar, red junglefowl, barking deer, and Kalij pheasant is a tradition in the Nepali culture. These animals are considered a delicacy of Nepali cuisine. Most of these animals are hunted and traded online for their meat.
Other species hugely traded online are parakeets and turtles. They are kept as pets in various households. Many pet shops around the country are known to sell these animals. These species are bred or trafficked from abroad and sold in the Nepali market. Turtle trade in the country has been controlled by the authorities but many traffickers are still illegally trading the endangered species in the market.
With the increasing cases related to the illegal wildlife trade in Nepal, among which, those using social media have emerged as a new threat and a challenge for the conservationists and related authorities in protecting the country’s precious wildlife.
If not controlled in time, this problem might possibly catch the eyes of several big-name traffickers and organizations, making it a global threat and would certainly cause destruction to the valuable wildlife of the country.