Quantifying an online wildlife trade using a web crawler


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Masters S., Anthoons B., Madesis P., Saroja S. G. , Schermer M., Gerritsen W., ...More

BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, vol.31, no.3, pp.855-869, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10531-022-02367-z
  • Journal Name: BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, PASCAL, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Environment Index, Geobase, Greenfile, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.855-869
  • Keywords: CITES, e-commerce, Ethnobotany, Forensic IT, Orchids, Salep, TRADITIONAL DRUGS SOLD, ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL SURVEY, ORCHIDS, COLLECTION, EXTENT, SALEP, DNA
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes

Abstract

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-022-02367-z


Legally protected plants are illegally traded through online sales platforms and orchids are a significant component of this wildlife trade. This study focused on salep, a compound product made from wild collected orchid tubers from several genera-including Anacamptis, Dactylorhiza, Himantoglossum, Ophrys, Orchis, Serapias-whose harvest endangers some of the species used, despite their collection and sale being restricted by national and international legislation. Using a custom designed web crawler in combination with DNA barcoding of a subset of products over 18 months 1942 items of salep were detected as sold at a total value of US$ 37,775, estimated to be equivalent to 90,000 to 180,000 wild orchids being destructively harvested. Wild harvested tubers traded at a value of $0.21 and equivalent cultivated orchids have a market price of $16-28; cultivation is currently no viable alternative to wild harvesting. Using a web crawler on open trade sites contributes to knowledge on illegal wildlife trade, which can be used to address illegal plant trade at the national and international level.