WWF Report on Online Wildlife Trade

The World Wildlife Fund has released a report stating that in Myanmar illegal purchases of wildlife online are increasing which is causing a threat to both endangered species and public health.

Findings of the report

  • Following the 2021 military takeover causing political turmoil, enforcement of bans on such transactions has weakened.
  • By 74 percent such dealings rose in over a year.
  • Out of 173 species traded, 54 are facing global extinction.
  • 639 Facebook accounts have been identified that belong to wildlife traders.
  • The largest online wildlife trading group consists of over 19,000 members and every week dozens of posts are made.
  • The illegally traded species are also being kept close to each other, sometimes they are even being put in the same cage.

What animals were traded?

Some of the animals that were traded included bears, elephants, gibbons, critically endangered pangolins, Tibetan antelope, and an Asian giant tortoise. Various species of monkeys were the most popular traded species online. Most advertised animals that were put up for sale were from the wild and included civets, which have been identified as potential vectors of diseases like COVID-19 and SARS.

Concerns regarding public health

The rise in the online trade of wildlife is concerning as it is causing interactions between humans and wild species due to which there are risks of the spread of new and possibly vaccine-resistant undetected mutations of diseases like COVID-19.

Diseases that have been traced back to animals

One of the many diseases that have been traced back to animals is COVID-19. The source of Ebola has been said to be the sale of bushmeat in Africa. In 1997 in Hong Kong, from the sale of chickens, Bird flu likely came. Measles is most likely traced back to a virus that infected cattle.

Steps that are being taken to stop the online trade of wildlife

A worldwide effort to stop such online trading of wildlife has been joined by various Social media platforms. Facebook has been continuously removing and blocking accounts of people engaged in such activities but new accounts are popping up thus hindering the enforcement.

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