Social Media Companies Need to Take a Stand Against Ape Smuggling

At this point in time, social media is ubiquitous with users turning to various social media platforms to do everything from keep up with long-distance friends, post photos of their meals, invite friends to parties, express their political views and sell illegally trafficked primates.

Wait – selling illegally trafficked primates? Though it may not come across your feed, yes, thatís a real thing thatís currently happening.

Thatís why the Care2 community is coming together to sign this new petition, Stop Illegal Ape Smuggling on Social Media! The petition calls on social media giants like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook to crack down on smuggling activities and terminate accounts that participate in this illegal behavior.

As the New York Times explains, ape traffickers have turned to these online platforms to both buy and sell primates like orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas.

The article profiles Daniel Styles, a senior citizen anthropologist in Kenya, who uses social media to search for photographs of primates. Heís not flipping through these pics just because he likes these animals, though Ė heís actually checking out the tags to see if traffickers are offering to sell these creatures so he can catch them in the act.

Although primate trafficking is illegal, itís fairly prevalent at this point since the rules arenít well enforced in parts of the world like Southeast Asia. Itís not that difficult to slip apes past enforcement agents, particularly when a lot of these agents are corrupt and can be bought.

Traffickers are happy to pay bribes given how lucrative the activity is. Buyers Ė typically rule-breaking zoos or wealthy collectors Ė will offer up to one quarter million dollars for a baby gorilla, for example.

To make a sad situation even sadder, itís not that just that primates are taken from their families Ė the family members are often slaughtered while a single ape is being apprehended.

Why not just take all the apes? Because buyers prefer the younger, cuter and less aggressive ones, and their smaller sizes make them easier to sneak through customs. However, because the adult apes are likely to fight back when their children are kidnapped, poachers will just shoot them to start to avoid the hostility.

While authorities are managing to catch people who transport and sell apes, for every one primate that is recovered, another five to ten slip through the cracks. Stiles estimates that about 22,000 primates have either been kidnapped or killed as bystanders for the purpose of trafficking.

For those reasons, itís imperative that social media companies like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook join in on the fight. They may not be directly responsible for all of the illegal activity conducted on their sites, but surely they have the technology to automatically search for people who are attempting to buy or sell primates online, and can alert the proper authorities accordingly.

At the very least, these social media companies should be able to deactivate the accounts to prevent transactions from occurring and reducing the demand for trafficking in the first place.

Take Action

To urge social media giants do to their part to cut down on illegal ape trafficking, be sure to add your name to the petition!

Photo credit: Thinkstock

75 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

Previously signed, thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

Previously signed, thank you

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Amanda M
Amanda M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M8 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

Petition signed.

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Michele B
Michele B8 days ago

signed with a heavy heart

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Terri S
Terri S8 days ago

Petition signed!!!

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Winn A
Winn A8 days ago

Petition Signed

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Cathy B
Cathy B8 days ago

Social media should display their moral compass and refuse to participate in any inhumane activities. Unfortunately the love of money is the root of all evil.

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Berenice Guedes de S√°

Shame on the social media for their absence of a good practice in this issue!!

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