Journal Article

Disentangling the legal and illegal wildlife trade: Insights from Indonesian wildlife market surveys


It is challenging to disentangle the legal and illegal aspects of wild-caught animals that are traded in wildlife markets or online, and this may diminish the value of conducting wildlife trade surveys. We present empirical studies on the trade in birds (ducks, owls, songbirds, non-passerines) in Indonesia (2005 to 2021). Based on visits to wildlife markets, wholesale traders, and monitoring of an Instagram account, we examine if five specific pieces of legislation (domestic and international) are adhered to: (1) protected species, (2) harvest quota, (3) welfare, (4) provincial transport restrictions, and (5) illegal import of CITES-listed species. Our five distinctly different case studies showed that in each case, certain rules and regulations were adhered to, whilst others were violated to varying degrees. When trade involved non-protected species, there was frequently a lack of harvest quotas or trade occurred above these allocated quotas. Basic welfare provisions were regularly and habitually violated. Visiting wildlife markets and recording first-hand what is openly offered for sale is a highly reliable, verifiable, and valuable method of data collection that can give insight in numerous aspects of the animal trade. Our research provides support for recognising the urgency for the government to take appropriate action to curb all the illegal aspects of the bird trade in Indonesia.

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Nijman, Vincent
Morcatty, Thais Queiroz
Feddema, Kim
Campera, Marco
Nekaris, K.A.I.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2022
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-03-23

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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