Sunday, 6 March 2016

Facebook and Instagram becomes black-market for trade in rare and endangered animals in Asia

Social media used for illegal trade of endangered animals in Asia 
Rare animals advertised on Facebook and Instagram, warns WWF
Traders and poachers increasingly go online to evade detection

PUBLISHED: 11:25, 3 March 2016 | UPDATED: 14:23, 3 March 2016

Poachers and black-market traders are using social media to buy and sell rare and endangered animals in Asia, wildlife conservationists warn.

A wide range of protected animals, from rare birds to orangutans, are increasingly being advertised on Facebook and Instagram. 

The trend poses a new and worrying threat in Asia, where products derived from endangered species are sought for traditional medicines, and exotic animals are prized as pets.

A wide range of protected animals, from rare birds such as hornbills (pictured) to orangutans, are being advertised on Facebook and Instagram by black-market traders and poachers in Asia. 

The warnings were made in a report by wildlife-trade monitor Traffic and conservation group WWF released to coincide with Thursday's World Wildlife Day.

'Traders are clearly moving to non-conventional methods of sale such as utilising online portals and social media in order to evade detection, reach a broader audience and increase transaction efficiency and convenience,'the report said.

Growing numbers of traders are using Instagram, closed groups on Facebook and password-protected online forums to reach Asian customers, it added.

Traffic said in a single month in China last year, thousands of ivory products, 77 whole rhino horns and large numbers of endangered birds were found advertised for sale on sites such as QQ and WeChat, which are popular in China.

'The wildlife trade network is getting smarter and more sophisticated,' WWF Malaysia director Dionysius Sharma said.

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