The legal taxonomy presented here offers a systematic process to help monitors understand the legal requirements that may apply to online wildlife trade. It is meant to be used in response to a post, advertisement or thread of interactions (e.g. over a messaging app) that is suspected of pointing to an illegal transaction of live wildlife or products containing parts of endangered species.

This community tool is aimed at people and organizations monitoring online markets for advertisements for live sales of endangered wildlife or wildlife products (made from endangered species). It is compiled in such a manner as to help people assess the legality (or illegality) of posts and to triage the information to identify entries that present the most compelling case for action by law enforcement.

This paper provides a checklist that contains a series of targeted questions to help monitors identify countries’ legal requirements concerning online wildlife trade and guide decisions on the legality of an advertisement.

The need for a checklist like this comes from the complex legal environment that governs online wildlife trade, and the difficulties of applying it in a specific context where jurisdictional borders dissolve. The transnational nature of the illicit wildlife trade makes its detection and prosecution notoriously difficult, and this problem has only been complicated by the increased use of the internet and social media platforms to market and sell wildlife products.