Quantifying an online wildlife trade using a web crawler

Masters, Susanne
Anthoons, Bastien
Madesis, Panagiotis
Saroja, Seethapathy G.
Schermer, Maarten
Gerritsen, Wilfred
Karahan, Arzu
Verdoes, Rick
Schwallier, Rachel
van Andel, Tinde
de Boer, Hugo
Gravendeel, Barbara
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.


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Citation Formats
S. Masters et al., “Quantifying an online wildlife trade using a web crawler,” BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, pp. 0–0, 2022, Accessed: 00, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/96665.