An Analysis of Online Wildlife Trade: A Situational Crime Prevention Approach




Rogers, Tiffany Gentry

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The illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products is valued in the billions of U.S. dollars each year. This trade affects biodiversity, local economies, political corruption, and places wildlife law enforcement in harm’s way. Generally, the detection rates of wildlife trade are assumed to be low. Issues of categorization and enforcement inhibit detection efforts. The Internet contributes to low detection rates by removing a human point in the sale chain, as it connects collectors with buyers directly. Online wildlife trade is not well represented in U.S.-based research. This dissertation contributes to the existing evidence base by providing information regarding trade into the United States using both official seizure data and online advertisement data, and by suggesting means by which preventive intervention may be implemented. Seizure data from 2000-2018 provided by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service was used to identify products encountered most often— “hot products.” These hot products were systematically searched in Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Etsy, and eBay, with advertisements indexed. An exhaustive descriptive analysis was performed on both the official seizure data and the online advertisements. The online ads were also subjected to a script analysis (Cornish, 1994) of the shipping techniques used by online wildlife traders to deconstruct the process and aid in developing points for potential intervention. The findings from this study present a novel understanding of how the open and deep webs are used to trade wildlife. This study serves as a foundation for further research examining successful points for intervention.



online, wildlife trade, rational choice, situational crime prevention, script analysis, Criminal Justice and Criminology


Rogers, T. G. (2023). An analysis of online wildlife trade: A situational crime prevention approach (Unpublished dissertation). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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