WWF Report Says Online Wildlife Trade on Rise in Myanmar

BANGKOK — A report by the World Wildlife Fund shows illegal purchases of wildlife online are growing in Myanmar in a threat both to public health and to endangered species.

The report issued Friday found that enforcement of bans on such transactions has weakened amid political turmoil following a 2021 military takeover.

The number of such dealings rose 74% over a year earlier to 11,046, nearly all of them involving sales of live animals. For the 173 species traded, 54 are threatened with global extinction, the report said.

Researchers identified 639 Facebook accounts belonging to wildlife traders. The largest online trading group had more than 19,000 members and dozens of posts per week, it said.

In this undated photo released by the World Wildlife Fund, a rhino horn and tiger teeth for sale sit on display in a black market animal trader at his home in Hanoi, Vietnam. (Robert Patterson/World Wildlife Fund via AP)

The animals and animal parts bought and sold involved elephants, bears and gibbons, Tibetan antelope, critically endangered pangolins and an Asian giant tortoise. The most popular mammals were various species of langurs and monkeys, often bought as pets.

Most of the animals advertised for sale were taken from the wild. They also included civets, which along with pangolins have been identified as potential vectors in the spread of diseases such as SARS and COVID-19.

Shaun Martin, who heads the WWF’s Asia-Pacific regional cybercrime project, said monitoring of the online wildlife trade shows different species being kept close together, sometimes in the same cage.

“With Asia’s track record as a breeding ground for many recent zoonotic diseases, this sharp uptick in online trade of wildlife in Myanmar is extremely concerning,” he said.

The unregulated trade in wild species and resulting interactions between wild species and humans raise the risks of new and possibly vaccine-resistant mutations of illnesses such as the COVID-19 that could evolve undetected in non-human hosts into more dangerous variants of disease, experts say.

COVID-19 is one of many diseases traced back to animals. The killing and sale of what is known as bushmeat in Africa was thought to be a source for Ebola. Bird flu likely came from chickens at a market in Hong Kong in 1997. Measles is believed to have evolved from a virus that infected cattle.

“Illegal wildlife trade is a serious concern from the point of view of biodiversity preservation and conservation and its potential impact on health security,” said Mary Elizabeth G. Miranda, an expert on zoonotic diseases and illness and CEO of the Field Epidemiology Training Program Alumni Foundation in the Philippines.

Social media and other online platforms have joined a worldwide effort to crack down on the thriving trade in birds, reptiles, mammals and animal parts. In Myanmar, much of the trade in wildlife is through Facebook, which as a member of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking online has taken action to block or remove accounts of people engaged in such transactions.

In this photo released by the World Wildlife Fund, one of 16 tigers cubs seized from smugglers on Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, has blood samples taken from veterinary team from the wildlife forensic unit to trace the DNA in Chaiyaphum province, Thailand. (James Morgan/World Wildlife Fund via AP)

But as is true elsewhere, new accounts often pop up just as soon as old ones are shut down, hindering enforcement, the report noted. Easy online access to the animals also is driving up demand, worsening the problem.

Discussions of purchases of protected species often took place in open Facebook groups, suggesting that such dealings remain “largely risk-free,” the report said. Since payments and deliveries often are done using messenger apps, controlling the problem is doubly difficult.

Highlighting the lack of enforcement, people in the illegal wildlife trade in Myanmar often use rudimentary methods of moving the animals and animal products around — with buses being the usual form of transport.

The study by WWF in Myanmar focused on trade online of animals and other creatures inside the country, though there were some imports from neighboring Thailand, mainly of birds such as cockatoos and parrots and of crocodiles, to India.

Some deals might involve animals or parts being sent into China, it said.

The conservation group said it plans future studies to better understand Myanmar’s role in the global trade in endangered species.



Young women diagnosed with breast cancer often must delay pregnancy for years while they take hormone-blocking pills.

Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


Mitsotakis: Today’s Bill Comes to Define a New Field in Which Everyone Should Move

ATHENS - At the end of August 2022, I announced a legislative initative for the upgrading and modernisation of the protection, the operation of the security agencies and the operation of the communications and after the change in National Intelligence Service's (EYP) leadership and the establishment of double check to the legal intrusions," stated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis addressing the parliament on Thursday during the debate on Justice Minstry's bill on the lifting of the communications confidentiality, cybersecurity and protection of the citizens' personal data.

The holiday season is swiftly upon us: gingerbread houses, eggnog, and festive parties with our nearest and dearest.

PERTH AMBOY — People are asking questions about a storm protection proposal for New York and New Jersey that would be among the most massive and costly flood control projects ever done in America.

NEW YORK. A delegation of the Diaspora Sector of Greece’s ruling New Democracy party visited New York City December 1-4.

WASHINGTON — The House gave final approval Thursday to legislation protecting same-sex marriages, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of such unions that reflects a stunning turnaround in societal attitudes.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.