Pet trading of freshwater megafauna species
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Freshwater ecosystems play a vital role by serving as crucial habitats, maintaining the quality and quantity of water, fostering biodiversity, and providing essential resources and services to human communities. Despite this, the scientific knowledge about megafauna species in freshwater ecosystems is incomplete due to insufficient research and data for more than 35% of the species. The trading of these species has become a major concern in recent years, often involving the capture and trade of threatened or endangered species. It is equally concerning when these species are traded as pets and kept in unsuitable environments. Social media platforms have been recognized as a crucial tool for gaining insights into the extent of this trade, as they provide access to pet owners who display these species online. The creation of a database from information derived from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles, not only reveals pets obtained through the trade but also those captured from the wild. By scrutinizing 372 posts and pictures on some of the most popular social media platforms, gathering information on the 67 species involved was taken place, where freshwater megafauna pets were found, and whether they have been introduced to areas beyond their natural habitat. This information can inform conservation efforts and assist in identifying potential impacts of species invasiveness. Consequently, emphasizing the potential dangers posed by trade and acknowledging its escalating threat becomes crucial in order to raise awareness about the associated risks. However, the use of social media as a source of information also raises ethical concerns, particularly regarding privacy and potential harm to individuals involved in the legal or illegal trade. In summary, social media provides critical information on the pet trade of freshwater megafauna, but it is imperative to use this information ethically and responsibly, with the goal of protecting these vulnerable species.