A guide to using the Internet to monitor and quantify the wildlife trade

The internet is a vast source of wildlife trade data. Here, we present an accessible guide for Internet‐based wildlife trade surveillance, which uses a repeatable and systematic method to automate data collection from relevant websites. Our guide is adaptable to the multitude of trade‐based contexts including different focal taxa or derived parts, and locations of interest.

By Oliver C. Stringham, Adam Toomes, Aurelie M. Kanishka, Lewis Mitchell, Sarah Heinrich, Joshua V. Ross, Phillip Cassey in Research

December 5, 2020

Abstract

The unrivalled growth in e‐commerce of animals and plants presents an unprecedented opportunity to monitor wildlife trade to inform conservation, biosecurity, and law enforcement. Using the Internet to quantify the scale of the wildlife trade (volume, frequency) is a relatively recent and rapidly developing approach, which currently lacks an accessible framework for locating relevant websites and collecting data. Here, we present an accessible guide for Internet‐based wildlife trade surveillance, which uses a repeatable and systematic method to automate data collection from relevant websites. Our guide is adaptable to the multitude of trade‐based contexts including different focal taxa or derived parts, and locations of interest. We provide information for working with the diversity of websites that trade wildlife, including social media platforms. Finally, we discuss the advantages and limitations of web data, including the challenges presented by trade occurring on clandestine sections of the Internet (e.g., deep and dark web). Article Impact Statement: The Internet is a vast source of wildlife trade data and a generalizable framework is provided to research unexplored contexts of the trade

Posted on:
December 5, 2020
Length:
1 minute read, 176 words
Categories:
Research
Tags:
conservation invasive species wildlife trade exotic pet trade internet
See Also:
Response to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's 'Proposed amendments to the Appendices of CITES for Australian Native Reptiles'
Challenges and perspectives on tackling illegal or unsustainable wildlife trade
Scientists' warning to humanity on illegal or unsustainable wildlife trade