The illegal trade in rare and endangered plants goes on – now on social media. A new study by the University of Kent has found that plants like rare orchids are regularly offered for sale via social media.
Orchids comprise nearly 70% of the plants covered by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and are among the most high-value plants in the world. The research, published in Conservation Biology found rare plants being traded by orchid hobbyists all around the world, through specialist groups on a “large international social media site”. The plants included one Critically Endangered wild orchid, Paphiopedilum kolopakingii, and the authors estimate that nearly a quarter of the plants being sold were wild collected.
Other plants threatened by collecting from the wild for international trade include many cactus species and also Hoya and Nepenthes.
As trading sites like Ebay have moved to ban the advertising and sale of illegally obtained animals and plants, so social media has become the new way to find buyers.
Read the full study at Conservation Biology