Facebook Allowed Trading Of Exotic Animals In Thailand: Watchdog

"Growing online wildlife trade will only pile further pressure on threatened non-native species that currently have no legal protection or regulation.”



A wildlife monitoring group claimed it found more than 1,500 listings of endangered animals for sale on Facebook in Thailand in just one month after it began its research back in 2016.

An anti-trafficking organization based in the United Kingdom, Traffic, recently claimed there has been a surge in number of people buying and selling endangered species on the social media platform.

In 2016, the wildlife trade watchdog reportedly monitored 12 Facebook groups in which about 200 different species were listed. From 2016 to 2018, total membership among the groups reportedly doubled from 106,111 to 203,445.

According to BBC, Traffic researchers found animals listed for sale included the black spotted turtle and the Eurasian otter, both of which were banned from international commercial trade.

In addition, other listings included the helmeted hornbill, Siamese crocodile and the Asiatic black bear which are also barred from international trade but are native to the country.

Moreover, the online posts included advertisements for live and dead animals, as well as animal parts in some cases.

Though Thailand’s wildlife protection laws didn’t prohibit the sale of 47 percentof the total advertised species, about 105 of them were posted for sale despite protection under country’s law.

"Growing online wildlife trade will only pile further pressure on threatened non-native species that currently have no legal protection or regulation," Kanitha Krishnasamy, TRAFFIC's acting regional director in Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

"Giving such species protection under Thailand's law and enabling enforcers to take action is the strongest way to address this critical conservation problem," Kanitha said.

The anti-trafficking body recommended that "Thai authorities should establish a close working relationship with Facebook and develop joint strategies to tackle this problem."

The social media giant also commented on the matter after the word of the disturbing practice got out.

"Facebook does not allow the sale or trade of endangered species or their parts, and we remove this material as soon as we are aware of it. We are committed to working with Traffic and law enforcement authorities to help tackle the illegal online trade of wildlife in Thailand," said a Facebook spokesperson.

However, it isn’t the first time Thailand has come under fire for conducting illegal wildlife trade. In fact, in the past wildlife seizures were often announced by authorities. In 2013, the country reportedly had the largest unregulated elephant ivory market in the world, which was later dealt with after new laws were instituted to tackle the issue.

An acting chief adviser for wildlife at conservation charity WWF, Cath Lawson, voiced concern about an increase in the illegal trade of animals through websites.

"The illegal wildlife trade is a serious international crime problem. It takes place in the real world, but also increasingly in digital spaces. This is a global problem and needs global solutions, which include increasing law enforcement, raising awareness and reducing demand for wildlife products,” said Lawson.

Banner / Thumbnail : Pexels, Pixabay

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