The illegal jaguar trade is happening ‘in plain sight’ online

A jaguar
Jaguar by Art G., found on Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

One of the most troubling developments for jaguars (Panthera onca) in recent years has been the resurgence of the illegal trade for their body parts. While the word “illegal” might imply actions done in secret, a new report by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) suggests that sometimes, this illicit trade takes place on the ‘front pages’ of the internet.

As reported by Maxwell Radwin for Mongabay, researchers with the WCS sought to understand how the internet might be facilitating the illegal trade in jaguar parts. They analyzed internet data in multiple languages over a 10-year period, 2009 through 2019, to find out.

The WCS’s researchers learned that criminals had made 230 posts on 31 websites promoting the illegal jaguar trade during that period. As it says in the original article, this is all illicit activity that’s taking place out ‘in the open.’

This is significant for two reasons. First, these online posts are the tip of the iceberg: most of the illegal jaguar trade does, indeed, take place in more secretive ways. If there’s this much trade occurring in plain sight, then this problem could be big.

Second, the online activity that the WCS uncovered would be easy for law enforcement agencies to find and trace. Unfortunately, Mongabay’s article seems to imply that this isn’t happening.

Tracking down and prosecuting people who advertise the illegal jaguar trade online would be one step towards getting this problem under control. It wouldn’t end the illegal jaguar trade, but it would be a visible way for governments to show that they won’t tolerate it.

To learn more, please read the original article on Mongabay.

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