University of Adelaide ecologist Oliver Stringham and his colleagues searched nearly 2 million dark web ads between 2014 and 2020 and found the trade of 153 different species, 70 of which have narcotic properties.
The most commonly traded species is the South American tree (Mimosa tenuiflora) with significant amounts of the powerful hallucinogenic DMT. Fortunately, most narcotic species are not at risk, however, researchers found several vulnerable species, such as the peyote cactus, among the species that contain psychoactive substances.
Other uses of the species include traditional medicine, making clothes and handbags from reptile skin. Some others are bought and sold as pets.
According to the findings, there is weak regulation of wildlife trade on the public internet (open web) and there is no reason for people to use the dark web because accessing this level of the web requires special software and furthermore lacks centralized search engines. . Wildlife trade is also increasingly taking place on the deep web, which includes messaging apps and private social networks.