Chinese E-Commerce Giants Say “NO” to Wildlife Crime

Chinese E-Commerce Giants Say “NO” to Wildlife Crime
Thursday, 16 October, 2014
Hangzhou, China

Leading online companies in China reaffirmed their zero tolerance for illegal wildlife trade at a workshop organized by China’s inter-agency wildlife enforcement task force with the support of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (www.ifaw.org). Nine e-commerce, social media and antique collectible companies including Alibaba, Tencent, Sina and Artron.net pledged to collaborate with government and civil society to prohibit illegal trade of wildlife parts and products in online marketplaces. 

“Collaboration of the various government agencies, private industry and NGOs is essential for combatting wildlife crime,” said MENG Xianlin, Director of China’s CITES Management Authority. ”The growth of internet has made online trade a life style for China’s 618 million netizens. Both governments and corporations have the responsibility to eliminate loopholes that can be exploited by criminals to trade in protected wildlife online.”

Illegal wildlife trade is a serious and growing international crime, driving many endangered species towards extinction. Peer-reviewed study exposed that 100,000 elephants were slaughtered for the ivory trade from 2011-2013. South Africa alone lost 1,004 rhinos, a historical high, in 2013 to poaching for the rhino horn trade. The illegal exploitation of the world’s wildlife is further aided by technology advances such as the internet. The world’s largest market place is always open, with international access without geographic restrictions. Its vastness, immediacy and anonymity aid wildlife criminals yet create tremendous challenges to law enforcement. 

“E-commerce companies in particular should shoulder more responsibility in addressing this global problem,” said XU Yan, Senior Manager at Alibaba’s Information Security Division. “We commit to enhanced online policies to prohibit illegal wildlife trade from online marketplaces. By making this pledge, we hope to mobilize more online companies to adopt a zero tolerance policy against wildlife crime.”    

“Through long-term monitoring of online wildlife markets in China, IFAW found that clear and strong online policies making marketplaces unavailable for wildlife trade, combined with vigorous enforcement have not only achieved sustained reduction in online wildlife trade but stigmatize wildlife consumption among the public,” said IFAW’s Asia Regional Director Grace Ge Gabriel.

IFAW has been investigating online wildlife trade worldwide since 2008. Through numerous reports, Caught in the Web (2005), Bidding for Extinction (2007), Killing with Keystrokes (2008), and actively working with private industries as well as law enforcement agencies around the world, IFAW has successfully instigated the numerous zero tolerance policies taken by e-commerce giants like Alibaba, eBay, and Alibaba’s subsidiary Chinese C2C website Taobao.

“Today, in addition to the 21 e-commerce and specialty websites, we have expanded our online wildlife trade monitoring work to more social media platforms as criminals have shifted illegal trade to these more secretive yet harder to control marketplaces. It is great to see the determination expressed by participants at this workshop to use technology to fight wildlife crime and stay ahead of wildlife criminals,” added Gabriel.

Government agencies participating in the workshop included the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Administration for Industry and Commerce and General Administration of Customs.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. News photos, audio and video available at www.ifawimages.com

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