Clicks and comments: Representation of wildlife crime in Pakistan in social media posts

Rehan Ul Haq, Arooj Abdulabad, Sobia Asghar, Judit K. Szabo

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    To evaluate the online presence of wildlife crime and the public's reaction to these crimes, we collected data on species, locations, animal status, and motives of wildlife crime depicted on nine Pakistani Facebook pages and eight groups from January 2016 to May 2021. We categorized reactions to images depicting birds, mammals, and reptiles and applied generalized linear models to the total number of reactions on posts. In 594 relevant posts, we identified 10,644 animals of 138 species. Common Krait (Bungarus caeruleus) had the highest number of posts, followed by Grey Francolin (Ortygornis pondicerianus) and Black Francolin (Francolinus francolinus). The number of posts has generally increased, particularly after the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020. Almost 66 % of the posts showed animals being killed, 27 % were captured with no visible signs of torture, and the rest showed visible signs of torture in captivity. The most common reason for wildlife crimes was illegal hunting, followed by fear and illegal trade. Most victims of illegal hunting were birds, while reptiles were predominantly killed for fear. However, illegal trade was affecting all three classes of animals. Killed or tortured animals received more reactions than non-tortured animals, as well as more comments both against and in favor of the crime. Crimes against reptiles received more pro-crime comments than birds and mammals. Our results reflect the importance of social media to monitor wildlife crimes. Urgent actions are necessary by the relevant authorities to improve management and strengthen the response of law enforcement to wildlife crime.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere02473
    Pages (from-to)1-16
    Number of pages16
    JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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