Wildlife group: Ex­otic pets trade ac­tiv­ity rises on Facebook groups

Ripon Bulletin - - Dollars & Sense -

BANGKOK (AP) — A wildlife mon­i­tor­ing group says re­search it has con­ducted since 2016 has found a sharp in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple be­long­ing to Facebook groups in Thailand where en­dan­gered an­i­mals are bought and sold.

The mon­i­tor­ing net­work TRAF­FIC said its re­searchers found 1,521 an­i­mals for sale on­line in 12 Facebook groups in Thailand in less than a month of mon­i­tor­ing in 2016. Fol­low-up re­search on the same 12 groups showed that at least nine were still ac­tive in July this year, with one be­com­ing se­cret, and their over­all mem­ber­ship had in­creased to 203,445 from 106,111.

Maethi­nee Phas­sa­rau­dom­sak, data and re­search of­fi­cer for TRAF­FIC in Thailand, said in an email Mon­day that the mon­i­tor­ing “shows how easy it is to carry out this business and mar­ket wildlife pub­licly while stay­ing anony­mous and out of reach of au­thor­i­ties.”

A new re­port by the group shows screen­shots of ex­otic an­i­mals ad­ver­tised for sale on Facebook. In one ex­am­ple, an uniden­ti­fied user posted a pic­ture of a rare horn­bill bird with a cap­tion say­ing “a baby rhi­noc­eros horn­bill is avail­able for pur­chase. In­ter­ested buy­ers, please con­tact by Facebook pri­vate mes­sage.” The bird’s price was listed as 9,500 baht ($289). The re­port said rarer and pro­tected species com­mand higher prices.

The re­port said the vast ma­jor­ity of an­i­mals of­fered in the on­line wildlife trade were ju­ve­niles, prized for pets.

The il­le­gal wildlife trade is not new to Thailand, where wildlife seizures are of­ten an­nounced by au­thor­i­ties. In 2013, Thailand was con­sid­ered to have the largest un­reg­u­lated elephant ivory mar­ket in the world but it has since in­sti­tuted new laws to deal with the prob­lem.

TRAF­FIC said its re­search found 200 dif­fer­ent species of­fered for sale on­line and 95 of those, mostly rep­tiles, were not pro­tected by Thai law be­cause they are not native to the coun­try.

It said an­i­mals such as the black pond tur­tle that are not native to Thailand and there­fore not pro­tected by Thai law fre­quently turn up in wildlife seizures in the coun­try and re­gion.

“Grow­ing on­line wildlife trade will only pile fur­ther pres­sure on threat­ened non­na­tive species that cur­rently have no le­gal pro­tec­tion or reg­u­la­tion,” Kanitha Kr­ish­nasamy, TRAF­FIC’s act­ing re­gional di­rec­tor in South­east Asia, said in a state­ment.

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