Reptile traffickers trawl scientific literature, target newly described species

Read the full story at Mongabay.

The descriptions and locations of new reptile species featured in scientific literature are frequently being used by traders to quickly hunt down, capture and sell these animals, allowing them to be monetized for handsome profits and threatening biodiversity.

New reptile species are highly valued by collectors due to their novelty, and often appear on trade websites and at trade fairs within months after their first description in scientific journals.

In the past 20 years, the Internet, combined with the ease and affordability of global travel, have made the problem of reptile trafficking rampant. Some taxonomists now call for restricted access to location information for the most in demand taxa such as geckos, turtles and pythons.

Once a new species has been given CITES protection (typically a lengthy process), traders often keep the reptiles in “legal” commercial circulation by making false claims of “captive breeding” in order to launder wild-caught animals.

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