>> Wild life smugglers who use endangered species as ingredients in so called traditional medicines are turning to social media to pedal their wheres. That's according to multiple monitoring groups Reuters spoke with say, that corner of the Internet is providing traffickers with benefits not available on old black market channels.
Particularly as China, the world's biggest exporter and importer of the remedies, which are also called folk medicines, sees its middle class boom. Dr. Coleman Crodin is the World Wildlife Fund's policy director based in Kenya. Its port of Mombasa is one of the biggest hubs for the illicit trade.
>> It's been a moving target. In days gone past, and to some extent now, it was being conducted through physical shops. Then increasingly through websites and that is morphed even further. The trade is going on through WhatsApp groups and other communication social media groups. And these often work in the basis of networks of phone numbers of known sellers and buyers.
So It's quite a clever way of operating and it's very difficult to pin down.>> Another edge with WhatsApp and its Chinese equivalent, WeChat, is that they both support encryption. Now even what's known as the dark web is fading. Those are web sites that aren't cataloged by search engines like Google, so are difficult to access without direct knowledge.
But law enforcement agencies can still actively monitor them once they've been found. Without an invitation, these social media services are harder to track.>> Because it's probably the most secure way of keeping this trade out of the hands of the enforcement authorities, going through social media communications groups are much more difficult to infiltrate.
>> At least 19 organized crime groups related to medicinal wildlife smuggling operate in the United Kingdom alone according to the European Union. And it accounts for the largest amount of seizures by a large margin with ivory a distant second. And United States medicinals are second only to contraband meat products.
Regardless of how smugglers are communicating though, law enforcement sources say traffickers still have one big hurdle. They still need to move the goods, and social media can't stop good old fashioned cargo checks. Without an invitation, these social media services are much harder to track. Without an invitation, these social media services are harder to track.