by Annette J Beveridge
We are so used to shopping online these days but did you ever think that you might buy an exotic or endangered animal through Facebook? Ever since Facebook chose to self-regulate back in 2018, wildlife trafficking has increased. Here in Britain, perform a search for an exotic animal on Facebook, and a warning is published that the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on this platform. But in the US, there is a law that protects online companies stating free speech.
Of course, it is not just Facebook that is the problem. On other social media platforms, people can surreptitiously contact others with similar interests.
During this pandemic, many people began to reconnect with nature. We all saw it thrive without interference. However, the sinister process of using wildlife as a commodity means that animals continue to be exploited using online methods. It is possible to find and purchase many different animals including cheetahs, pangolins, sea turtles and so on.
The animals that are trafficked usually come to a very sad end. They are just a commodity, a reason to make money, and are not treated as sentient creatures. Electronic sales of animals and parts are as diverse as pangolins, shark fins or ivory and it is becoming a huge problem. The adverts do not have to be explicit either and the exploitation of animals can happen in any country. There are always those who wish to seek a profit from the creatures in which they trade.
It is worth stating that social media companies such as Facebook do act and are complying with the rules. They can and do remove accounts that are linked to animal trafficking. But this underground market will continue until the laws are tightened and changed. Until then, many animals – even those on the brink of extinction will continue to die.