12 Jan 2021 11:50AM(Updated: 12 Jan 2021 11:58AM) CNA
KUALA LUMPUR: Masks that helped save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic are proving a deadly hazard for wildlife, with birds and marine creatures ensnared in the staggering number of discarded facial coverings littering animal habitats.
Over two surveys conducted between November 2016 and June 2017, TRAFFIC’s researchers found more than 10,000 ivory items being offered on sale across 852 physical outlets and 17 online platforms, suggesting an ivory market that has continued to thrive over the past few decades.
Physical retail stores in Ho Chi Minh City and Buon Ma Thuot had the highest number of ivory items for sale, the surveys found, but two villages, Ban Don and Lak, had a disproportionately high number of items on sale compared to the number of stores. Among the online platforms, social media sites had the highest number of posts offering ivory for sale.
These are Southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) in an undisclosed protected area in South Africa.
Credit: Enrico Di Minin
Illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity conservation and is currently expanding to social media. This is a worrisome trend, given the ease of access and popularity of social media. Efficient monitoring of illegal wildlife trade on social media is therefore crucial for conserving biodiversity.
Sciencedaily – Southeast Asia is a widely recognised centre of illegal wildlife trade — both as the source region for species ranging from seahorses to tigers, and as a global consumer of ivory carvings, wild pets, and traditional Chinese medicinal products.
While there are mounting efforts to tackle illegal wildlife trade, including within Singapore to reduce demand for wildlife products, the illegal trade in some species still remains undocumented.
Associate Professor Edward L. Webb, from the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and NUS PhD graduate Dr Jacob Phelps, have uncovered a previously little recognised Southeast Asian wildlife trade — the illegal sale of wild-collected ornamental plants, especially orchids.
Their findings were recently published in the journal Biological Conservation in June 2015.