Mongabay: Unregulated by U.S. at home, Facebook boosts wildlife trafficking abroad

Mongabay: Unregulated by U.S. at home, Facebook boosts wildlife trafficking abroad. “In a matter of seconds, anyone can find evidence of wildlife trafficking on Facebook, according to independent researchers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) experts. Even using simple search terms returns thousands of posts that offer wildlife and body parts up for sale. Elephant ivory from Thailand, pangolin scales from Vietnam, and sun bears from Malaysia. Tigers, walrus, tortoises, rhinos, sea turtles and shark fins have all been found for sale on the world’s biggest social media platform, even though it says it has banned the trade on its site.”

PBS: The 21st Century Threat to Wildlife is “Cyberpoaching”

PBS: The 21st Century Threat to Wildlife is “Cyberpoaching”. “The illegal wildlife trade has transformed with the growth and accessibility of the internet. Animals that used to be sold in physical markets are now sold by anonymous online vendors. As a result, a largely unregulated online market allows criminal enterprises to sell illegally acquired wildlife products, and transport them around the world. The consumer-to-consumer marketplace has made buying shark fins, pangolin scales, and rhino horns as easy as click, pay, ship.”

TRAFFIC: TRAFFIC launches Elephant Trade Information System Online

TRAFFIC: TRAFFIC launches Elephant Trade Information System Online. “The new platform allows authorised governmental representatives to access and more easily submit records on elephant specimen seizures in their respective countries. For example, Parties can view and download their data that are used in ETIS analyses, which details the number and weight of seizures made within the country as well as seizures in which their country was implicated by other Parties. ETIS is a database holding almost 30,000 records of seizures or confiscations of elephant ivory and other elephant specimens, which have been reported since 1989 – for a total of over 750 tonnes of raw ivory equivalent to date.”

PR Newswire: USAID, Born Free USA, and Freeland Launch WildScan App to Counter Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa (PRESS RELEASE)

PR Newswire: USAID, Born Free USA, and Freeland Launch WildScan App to Counter Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa (PRESS RELEASE). “Designed as a tool for customs and border patrol officers, WildScan aids in the identification of wildlife species and wildlife parts and products being trafficked across borders. The app comes with a comprehensive photo library and database of vital information on more than 500 protected species, providing users with tips on how to identify the animals they encounter. WildScan also details local animal protection laws and includes a reporting option that allows the user to document a suspected wildlife crime with the push of one button. This reporting transmits information to relevant enforcement agencies and contributes to broader information sharing on wildlife crime in the region.”

Reuters: Vietnam bans wildlife trade to curb risk of pandemics

Reuters: Vietnam bans wildlife trade to curb risk of pandemics. “Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has issued a directive to ban the Southeast Asian country’s wildlife trade with immediate effect in order to reduce the risk of new pandemics, a government statement said. The directive bans imports of live wild animals and wildlife products, eliminates wildlife markets, and enforce prohibitions on illegal hunting and trading of wild animals, including online sales, according to the statement issued late on Thursday.”

Mongabay: Holding social media companies accountable for facilitating illegal wildlife trade (commentary)

Mongabay: Holding social media companies accountable for facilitating illegal wildlife trade (commentary). “Facebook, and other social media firms, mainly rely on algorithms and artificial intelligence to moderate harmful content. But investigations by the Alliance to Counter Crime Online (ACCO) show time and again how these algorithms actually connect traffickers faster than moderators can remove them. They suggest friends and recommend groups, putting illicit actors in touch with one another, continually expanding networks of users engaging in similar illegal activities.”

Mongabay: Social media enables the illegal wildlife pet trade in Malaysia

Mongabay: Social media enables the illegal wildlife pet trade in Malaysia. “It might seem harmless enough at first. The big eyes and the rambunctious, bounding play of the tiny cats and monkeys on your social media feed draw you in, and you think, I could take care of one of these adorable little animals. Reaching an audience of thousands of potential buyers is just one of the benefits that wildlife traffickers like Kejora Pets in Peninsular Malaysia reap when using social media. It also helps them cloak their identity and dodge the law while satisfying the demand for animals that have been plucked from their forest homes. But the sale of these animals as pets threatens their survival in the wild, conservationists say.”

Associated Press: Body parts from threatened wildlife widely sold on Facebook

Associated Press: Body parts from threatened wildlife widely sold on Facebook. “Facebook is displaying advertisements for well-known American corporations on group pages operated by overseas wildlife traffickers illegally selling the body parts of threatened animals, including elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger teeth. In a secret complaint filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, wildlife preservation advocates allege that Facebook’s failure to stop illicit traders using its service for illegal activity violates the social network’s responsibilities as a publicly traded company.”

Phys .org: Using artificial intelligence to investigate illegal wildlife trade on social media

Phys. org: Using artificial intelligence to investigate illegal wildlife trade on social media. “Illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity conservation and is currently expanding to social media. This is a worrisome trend, given the ease of access and popularity of social media. Efficient monitoring of illegal wildlife trade on social media is therefore crucial for conserving biodiversity. In a new article published in the journal Conservation Biology, scientists from the University of Helsinki, Digital Geography Lab, argue that methods from artificial intelligence can be used to help monitor the illegal wildlife trade on social media.”

Facebook top choice for Philippines wildlife traders: monitor (The Independent)

The Independent: Facebook top choice for Philippines wildlife traders: monitor. “Facebook has emerged as the top site for wildlife trafficking in the Philippines, a watchdog said Friday, with thousands of endangered crocodiles, snakes and turtles illegally traded in just three months. Monitoring network TRAFFIC said Facebook had not done enough to shut down the trade, which saw more than 5,000 reptiles from 115 species put up for sale on its discussion groups from June to August 2016 alone.”