Illegal trade of morphological distinct population prior to taxonomic assessment and elevation, with recommendations for future prevention [article]

Matthijs P. van den Burg, Bruce J. Weissgold
2020 bioRxiv   pre-print
The negative impacts of international wildlife trafficking are well known, and such negative impacts can be even more pronounced for insular species. This dynamic market needs close monitoring, and when novel species appear in the commercial trade relevant authorities should be able to react in order to reduce negative impacts on wild populations. Here we describe a novel case where an insular endemic form of the Iguana iguana complex has entered the international commercial trade, likely
more » ... trade, likely stimulated by efforts to elevate the form taxonomically. Despite the absence of authorized export permits from the relevant CITES authority, we identify animals that are sold in a range of countries and the likely pathway and methods of importation. We provide recommendations to prevent future illegal collection and trafficking that could be implemented for other taxa. We call for increased awareness of the higher economic value of taxa considered for future taxonomic elevation, and increased monitoring of the commercial trade in order to act promptly when illegal activity is detected.
doi:10.1101/2020.05.26.116426 fatcat:2w3m3u7dpvdgxbif2ou3kgisv4