Do journals lead traffickers to newly-described reptiles?

Wildlife traffickers set out into the karst landscape of China in search of newly described geckos that appeared in scientific literature. Credit: Vyacheslav Argenberg

When a newly-identified reptile is described in scientific literature, it’s not just exciting for biologists. It also catches the eyes of wildlife traffickers, who comb journals for their descriptions and locations. Within months of appearing in scientific literature, these species can show up at trade fairs and on wildlife trafficking websites, writes Mongabay. Some biologists are now calling for restricted access to location information for in-demand taxa.

“For reptiles with high commercial value — turtles, cave geckos, pythons — only researchers and government agencies should be authorized to access the exact location data,” suggests Yang Jianhuan, senior conservation officer at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens in Hong Kong.

Shortly after he described four new karst gecko species, they appeared on online trade websites. When he discovered another species, he refused to publish its location data.

Read more from Mongabay.