This is how the illegal trade in spiders and other animals online works

More than 1,200 species of spiders, scorpions and other spiders are victims of the illegal trade in exotic species. The black market is now operating online.

Trapped in plastic boxes filled with sand, thousands of tarantulas and other types of “exotic” animals are part of the Widespread network of illegal trade. The vast majority of transactions are done online, according to a study recently published in Nature Communications. The most worrying thing, as the team of specialists explains, is that Available in almost any browser.

Altogether, study She reported 1,264 different species, belonging to “66 families and 371 genera in trade,” the authors of the Natural History Museum of Finland wrote. A high percentage of them – up to 66% – are Harvested directly from their natural habitatTo be packaged in plastic boxes. This is what is known about her.

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Hidden in plain sight

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“Spider”, “Scorpion” and “Spider” It was some of the terms that scientists entered into the search engine as a starting point. They were surprised that without any safety filter, hundreds of digital stores provided endemic samples of these animals. The catalogs they find – like any online clothing, food, or service menu – display the types openly, as exotic consumer goods.

He documented that “the list included some striking species, such as the huge Asian forest scorpion and the Costa Rican tarantula zebra.” The New York Times. “But there were also some surprises like the long-legged spider, which is a resident of basements in the United States.”

Although in digital environments, Huge ads are shownUS Fish and Wildlife Trade Database It is considered only 267 species of spiders involved in this dynamic. However, spiders, scorpions and other animals that are part of the illegal trade already exceed this figure More than a thousand different species.

The problem is that some of these species have not yet been studied by science. even so, Emerge as heroes on digital black market listings, denounced the biologists responsible for the study. Although it may pose a threat to people who acquire it, The network of illegal trade is growing, intertwined and expanding more than ever before.

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Spiders are not inexhaustible resources

When species are removed from their natural habitat, the entire ecosystem is under stress. This is because Every living organism that integrates it has a biological function. When removing spiders from their natural habitats, a A balancing factor is also required in that environment. The consequences come in a domino effect.

As the study authors explain:

The authors wrote: “The wildlife trade is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss.” temper natureHowever, while the effects of trade in some species are relatively well known, some taxa, such as many invertebrates, are often overlooked.

Researchers worry that it doesn’t take long from the time a species is documented until it is sold on the black market. in the middle, It’s only been two years Between its discovery and illegal online sale. With the huge reach that digital purchases allow, business is growing—and Species become rare.

“This indicates that people are going out into the field, finding something new, Gather a collection and put it up for sale online‘,” says Anne Danielson-Francois, a spider scientist and behavioral ecologist at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. However, this dynamic is not sustainable, not even at a business level: Spiders are not inexhaustible resourcesThe expert confirms.

At this rate of trade, the authors explain, spider collectors can be in possession of Species that have not yet been documented. Therefore, researchers strongly urge potential end consumers to do so Think about the true purpose of your purchases. Their survival depends on the existence of healthy natural environments in which they inhabit.And not live in glass boxes in some amateur studio.

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