#Facebook is Being Used as a Market for Illegal #Endangered #Animal Trade

First organs, then refugee passage, and now endangered animals. The Facebook black market is vast, eclectic, and altogether abhorrent. Murky, easily sidestepped terms of use, a format that's easy to turn into an online shop window and the most international reach of any social network have enabled many nefarious individuals to use it to sell things that nobody should be selling, on Facebook or otherwise. Now, we can add several highly endangered species to the list.

The trade of captured animals in and around Asia is no secret, and sadly it's often freely promoted online, and shared unwittingly by people who don't realise how sinister it really is. Ever seen or shared a video of a slow loris being tickled? Yeah, that's a fear response, and that slow loris has likely spent most of its life in a cage, but not before having its fangs ripped out with rusty pliers. Cuteness is the veil which much of this disgusting behaviour hides beneath, and while most of the people in the western world who shared the videos were unaware of their true danger, and never had any intention of perpetuating this sinister pet dealing, it's still running rampant.

On Friday, Traffic released a harrowing report which revealed that revealed that more than 300 wild animals had been sold on Facebook over the last 5 months, with just under 50% of them being on the protected species list. The thing is though, that's just 14 different groups, and only in Malaysia, there's no telling how much further it might have spread.

Among the animals found to be on sale in the report, several are down as 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List, such as the sun bear, some are 'endangered' and a few are even 'critically endangered', such as the Burmese star tortoise, which has been decimated because of its value to private collectors in the west (they can fetch anything up to $7,000) and the yellow-crested cockatoo, of which there are thought to be as few as 7,000 individuals left in the wild.

All the groups monitored were closed, as you might expect, but Traffic identified somewhere in the region of 68,000 active users and 106 known sellers. Facebook have said in a statement that any illegal animal trade they find will be immediately shut down, but it depends greatly on the laws in the country of origin, and Malaysia has no legal pet market, as such. Facebook have now committed to working together with Traffic on the issue, so hopefully it will start to see more effective countermeasures in the near future, and frankly the sooner the better, this has all the hallmarks of a growth market, if it's left unchecked.

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