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

77 comments

Lesa D
Lesa D2 months ago

#159,946 petition signed...

thank you, Kevin...

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Pat P
Pat P2 months ago

This smuggling of orangutans MUST BE STOPPED! These poor little animals are really suffering, as well as, becoming closer to extinction. People who don't care about the misery of animals, are without empathy, compassion and soul--sociopaths. The apes have strong emotions and feel immense physical pain--so as babies, when their mother's or entire families are killed right in front of them, they are severely distraught and fearful. There future's are bleak--often filled with terror in a small cage in the dark.

Social Media has to end their involvement! They are enabling criminal activity/businesses and horrifying cruelty! What kind of sick freak puts animal torture on line?! Social media has no excuse for allowing this immoral horror and suffering of ANY living being! FB, Instagram, What's App? should be pressured by their members to prevent a cover-up for illicit activities.

Maybe more FB members should be complaining to people like 33 year-old Zuckerberg, demanding he clean up his site (which I have NEVER been interested in). I would think he has already earned more than enough wealth from his unethical/immoral postings, placing him in the top tier of Forbes, maybe 5th in the world ($75 billion?)--at his young age. I can't imagine that he really needs another penny--therefore, he can afford to start demanding some standards of decency and legality--and demonstrate some responsibility. They can search for the criminal acti

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s3 months ago

Previously signed, thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie s3 months ago

Previously signed, thank you

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Amanda M
Amanda M3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Amanda M
Amanda M3 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Muff-Anne York-Haley

Petition signed.

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Michele B
Michele B3 months ago

signed with a heavy heart

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Terri S
Terri S3 months ago

Petition signed!!!

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Winn A
Winn A3 months ago

Petition Signed

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