In apprehension of wildlife trafficking culprit, praise for Polynesian customs

One of the macaque skulls recovered. c. Douane françaiseThe week started off with a bang as Polynesian customs seized four long tailed macaque skulls. This species of small monkey is listed in Appendix II of CITES as it is a target for poachers, and it is only found in the Island of Sumatra and the Philippines.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare wishes to congratulate the agents at the Port of Papeete customs who discovered the skulls during a parcel search of mail originating from Indonesia on an Air New Zealand flight.

This illegal online transaction was carried out on eBay, one of the most proactive auction sites with the strictest policies governing the sale of wildlife species and their derivatives. In 2008, following an IFAW investigation into ivory product sales on eBay - ‘Killing with Keystrokes’ - eBay banned the sale of ivory on all its websites.

This seizure once again highlights the role that Internet plays in the trafficking of CITES species and the difficulty of monitoring such advertisements, including on websites as strict as eBay.

When unable to provide a CITES export certificate granted by the Indonesian authorities, the culprit admitted to having the intention of starting up an e-commerce business with these skulls, highly sought after by collectors. This seizure is therefore a great success, preventing a devastating business for this species from being established.

During an inspection of the culprit’s home, the authorities discovered some 3000 wildlife specimens including shells, insects, butterflies originating from French Guyana, green turtles from Tuamotu and even ostrich eggs. The value was estimated at over FCFP 3 000 000 or € 25 000.

For several years now IFAW has alerted authorities to the danger posed by Internet and the difficulty in monitoring illegal transactions involving protected species. This seizure in French Polynesia shows just how far wildlife trafficking can spread thanks to the incredible reach of the Internet. This is why IFAW calls upon websites to improve the monitoring of advertisements offering wildlife objects and to work closely with anti-fraud enforcement agencies.

To this day, several websites have listened to IFAW and have banned online trade in ivory and other endangered wildlife products. Etsy has just joined this group who refuse to be a part of biodiversity depletion, and good on them!

--MC

For more information on our efforts to end the trafficking of wildlife, visit our campaign page.

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Azzedine Downes,Executive Vice President for International Operations, VP of P
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Kelvin Alie, Programme Director, Wildlife Trade
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Campaigns and Enforcement Manager, IFAW UK
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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