Trade in rare plants on social media risking their extinction: Study

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London, March 16 (IANS) People buying rare plants through social media are placing the species at risk of extinction and the trade must be monitored, warn researchers.

Using the orchid trade as a case study, the research by University of Kent’s Dr Amy Hinsley and Dr David Roberts represents the first large-scale global survey of wildlife trade via a social media site.

Illegal traders are keen to find new ways to advertise and sell their plants on the black market, with social media emerging as the new way to do so.

Orchids make up 70 percent of species listed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and are sold on the black market for huge amount of money.

“This provides the motivation for traders to bypass the rules aimed at preventing species from becoming extinct,” said the study published in the journal Conservation Biology.

The researchers found that wild orchids were being traded from all over the world. The increasing use of the internet by wildlife traders, especially those involved in illegal trade, is a significant challenge to conservation of traded species especially those in niche markets.

The increasing use of the internet by wildlife traders, especially those involved in illegal trade, is a significant challenge to conservation of traded species especially those in niche markets.

Evidence suggests increased regulation, like eBay’s ban on ivory sales in 2009, may be driving wildlife traders to sell via social media.

Hinsley and Roberts asserted that law enforcers and conservationists must discover, monitor and respond to new developments quickly.

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

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