European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

Linking ILLegal WILDlife trade and biodiversity loss: new insights from digital media

Project description

Understanding illegal wildlife trade through digital media

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is a major threat to the future existence of species around the world. Digital media is transforming how people exchange and sell species; however, systematic studies on the magnitude and geographic range of IWT on digital media and the subsequent impacts do not exist. Addressing this, the EU-funded ILLWILD project will examine and quantify, using cutting-edge machine learning algorithms, the global scale of IWT on digital media for endangered species. It will further identify geographical hotspots and the socio-economic drivers for it and shed light on the most at-risk species through this channel. The project's work will aid in stopping biodiversity loss.


Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is increasing worldwide, with far reaching consequences for animal populations and ecosystems, as well as for human health and society. IWT is changing rapidly, and digital media has become one of its main channels. However, no systematic studies have characterized the magnitude and geographic range of IWT on digital media and the subsequent impacts on biodiversity conservation. Here, I will: (1) explore and quantify the global scale of IWT on digital media for endangered mammal and bird species; (2) identify geographic hotspots and explore the socio-economic drivers of IWT; and (3) identify top priority species for which the impact of individual offtake for IWT through digital media is higher in terms of population decline. To do so, I will focus on the digital trade of bird and mammal species included in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora); since international trade for those species is not permitted. I will use state-of-the-art machine-learning algorithms to detect and quantify illegal trade of those species on several digital media platforms. I will integrate this information with potential geographic and socio-economic drivers of illegal wildlife trade to establish appropriate conservation planning strategies. Finally, I will carry out population models to understand the contribution of IWT to mortality rates and population trends. The proposed study combines artificial intelligence, social sciences and conservation science, thus providing a novel, multidisciplinary approach to understand the extent and patterns of IWT through digital media platforms and inform decision-making to ultimately help halt biodiversity loss.


Net EU contribution
€ 202 680,96
00014 Helsingin Yliopisto

See on map

Manner-Suomi Helsinki-Uusimaa Helsinki-Uusimaa
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 202 680,96