Latest viral TikTok trend sees teens killing badgers and other wildlife for kudos

29 November 2022, 16:43 | Updated: 29 November 2022, 17:09

Teens are killing badgers on TikTok for Kudos an animal charity has warned
Teens are killing badgers on TikTok for Kudos an animal charity has warned. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Danielle DeWolfe

Teenagers are turning to social media platform TikTok to showcase animal abuse for kudos leading animal charities have warned.

The Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL) has highlighted an increasing number of teen social media users posting content featuring dogs baiting wildlife, alongside a range of animal trophies.

According to their report, the use of the internet to “network, organise, and normalise badger crime" has become increasingly prevalent.

Compiled from data supplied by organisations including the RSPB, WWF UK, Plantlife and the League Against Cruel Sports, the report claims crimes against animals has remained at record levels since figures spiked in 2021.

The report's authors also warned that crimes such as badger baiting can be live-streamed and bet upon, with opportunist gangs taking advantage of the remote nature of live recordings.

Teens are using TikTok to showcase wildlife crimes charities say
Teens are using TikTok to showcase wildlife crimes charities say. Picture: Contributor: eric latham / Alamy Stock Photo

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The sharp rise in figures coincided with lockdown, with charities suggesting the pandemic is likely to have increased the reporting of such crimes given the increased number of people venturing out to the British countryside.

Official reports of wildlife crimes rose from 1,056 in 2019 to 1,401 in 2020.

But while the number of convictions has doubled since 2020, only 55 people were convicted by the police.

One of the most high-profile cases saw a group of teenage boys in Burnley, Lancashire, post videos of themselves committing a range of wildlife crimes to social media.

Some of the most watched included the group using dogs to kill a variety of animals, including badgers to deer.

Posting more than 170 videos to the social media platform, two of the teenagers were fined £500 and £1,000 each, with one receiving an 18-week prison sentence.

Badgers and other wildlife are being killed and showcased on social media
Badgers and other wildlife are being killed and showcased on social media. Picture: Contributor: SWNS / Alamy Stock Photo

“Wildlife crime soared during the pandemic and remained at record levels this year,” the CEO of WCL, Dr Richard Benwell, said.

“Progress on convictions is positive, and we welcome DEFRA’s efforts to stiffen sentencing, but overall that is of little use while the rate of successful prosecutions remains so low. The snapshot in our report is likely to be a significant under-estimate of all kinds of wildlife offences.

He added: "To get to grips with these cruel crimes, the Home Office should make wildlife crime notifiable, to help target resources and action to deal with hotspots of criminality.”

Lockdown saw criminal gangs increasingly turn to social media in a bid to organise badger attacks.

It comes as Wildlife experts branded the conviction rate ‘appallingly low’, blaming a lack of police resourcing and labelling inadequate penalties a less than ample deterrent.

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