Trends in legal and illegal trade of wild birds: a global assessment based on expert knowledge.
Wildlife trade is a profitable economic activity. Birds are among the most heavily traded animals worldwide, with numerous species threatened by pet trade. Information on both legal and illegal aspects of trade and consumer demand is difficult to obtain across different countries, particularly given substantial socio-economic and cultural variation. Focusing on consumer demand in each country, we conducted a global survey among 105 international experts on bird conservation to identify expected trends, drivers and market characteristics of legal and illegal wild-caught pet bird trade. Our results suggest that future trends in legal bird trade will be mostly driven by socio-cultural motivations and intentional demand for wild-caught, rather than captive-bred birds. Bird popularity and rarity are the main factors expected to influence the choice of which bird species will be the most traded legally. Percentage of rural population was the main national-level socio-economic predictor for legal bird trade in the future. Demand for future illegal trade is expected to be driven by bird popularity and particular species identity. Experts consider illegal trade to be sustained mainly by consumers from higher socio-economic and educational backgrounds. Human population growth rate was the main national-level socio-economic predictor of illegal trade expected for the future. Legislation enforcement remains a critical issue in wildlife trade. Expanding trade networks and socio-economic changes continue to incorporate new regions into the wildlife trade. Investigating the multidimensional and synergistic determinants of wildlife trade will thus help address potential detrimental impacts bird trade might cause on biodiversity.