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Endemic Madagascan animals are prized for their idiosyncrasies and rarity, and the island’s tortoises, geckos and chameleons are a particular focus of reptile enthusiasts. The international illegal trade in Madagascan reptiles is routinely conducted online, increasingly via social-media platforms. These sites offer traders a convenient way of connecting with a wide international customer base, where there is little internal monitoring and enforcement and access to information can be easily controlled. As a result, the internet facilitates a trade that already poses an acute threat to highly endangered species. At the same time, internet-based or internet-facilitated trade makes enforcing existing legislation designed to protect these animals much harder, due to the use of multiple platforms, the linguistic and technical barriers to monitoring these platforms, and the diffuse networks of sellers and buyers driving the trade which are not suitable to ‘kingpin’-driven enforcement tactics.

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Publications 21 November 2018