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ESR prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Shifts of trade in Javan ferret badgers Melogale orientalis from wildlife markets to online platforms: implications for conservation policy, human health and monitoring

Eilish M. Thomas*, K. Anne-Isola Nekaris, Muhammad Ali Imron, Phillip Cassey, Chris R. Shepherd, Vincent Nijman

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Wildlife trade is increasingly impeding the conservation of imperilled wildlife and is a potential threat to human health. Ferret badgers are extensively traded in China, although the trends, drivers and health implications of ferret badger trade in other parts of Asia remain poorly known. Here, we focus on the pet trade of a little known endemic small carnivore species, Javan ferret badger Melogale orientalis in Indonesia, over a ten-year period (2011 to 2020). The Javan ferret badger is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with an unknown population trend. We aimed to gain insight into the magnitude of this trade, its purposes, price trends, distribution records, health risks, and shifts to online platforms. We documented 44 ferret badgers in 11 wildlife markets in Java and Bali and 100 ferret badgers for sale on online platforms. We observed a shift in trade from traditional animal markets only, to trade in these markets as well as online. Asking prices, corrected for inflation, declined significantly from ~USD 37 in 2012 to ~USD 22 in 2020, and were related to the purchasing power in cities where trade occurred. Widespread sale of the species highlights that enforcement continues to be overly passive as any trade in the species is illegal. We recommend Javan ferret badger be afforded full national protection and prioritised in monitoring efforts to establish its true conservation status. Additionally, concerted efforts are needed to determine if online trade poses a risk to conservation and human health.