Wildlife traffickers based out of Vietnam are utilizing Facebook and social media sites to sell and trade animal parts — on a huge scale.
The illegal trade of wildlife parts is one of the most extensive black markets worldwide. Recently, undercover investigators released astonishing proof of these gruesome activities happening on a massive scale. The Wildlife Justice Commission is one of the leading forces in stopping environmental crimes and they have attributed $53 million worth of illegal animal trade to Vietnamese dealers throughout the course of the past year.
The most astonishing part of this discovery is that the illegal activities are based out of only one village in Vietnam — Nhi Khe. An estimated 50 members of this operation have been avidly utilizing private groups on Facebook and WeChat wallet to offload large quantities of ivory, rhino horns, and tiger parts.
Facebook and other social media outlets are becoming dangerous tools in wildlife trafficking. Closed group auctions on the site allow for unmonitored activity, although Facebook representatives adamantly insist that they prohibit such activities and delete accounts that violate their policies.
The abuse does not stop there — the sell and trade of live wildlife animals through social media is equally prevalent, including live cheetahs, leopards, and endangered tortoises. A Facebook group called Traffic serves as the first line of defense for these criminal activities, actively watching and investigating groups that might be involved — but it is not enough.
Although the Vietnamese government was informed of the recent results of the WJC’s year-long investigation in Nhi Khe, no measures have been implemented to stop the criminals. The creation of additional detection teams through social media must be implemented in order to deter the increasing illegal trade of wildlife.