Multi-agency approach to counter wildlife trade on the Internet
The rise of the Internet is contributing to the rapid growth of illegal trade in wildlife, which is having a devastating effect on animals and ecosystems. Fast, convenient and anonymous, trading of wildlife on the Internet is posing a major challenge to wildlife conservation and law enforcement.
According to a recently published report by IFAW, Killing with Keystrokes: An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web, Internet trade in wildlife poses a significant and immediate threat to the survival of many endangered species. The report, which followed a six-week investigation that tracked more than 7,000 wildlife product listings on 183 Web sites in 11 countries, found that elephant ivory dominated the trade, comprising 73% of all product listings tracked. Exotic birds were second, accounting for nearly 20% of the listings tracked. Primates, big cats and other animals are also falling victim to the e-trade in live animals and wildlife products, according to the report.
In an unprecedented collaboration, IFAW and Taobao jointly launched a month-long campaign to raise awareness about the unsustainable trade of wildlife on the Internet. The Taobao site initiated a series of online activities to encourage consumer participation in combating the illegal trade in wild animals and their parts and products. An IFAW e-store is opened on Taobao, where netizens can report online illegal wildlife trade activities in exchange for IFAW gifts and wildlife conservation information.
“IFAW has conducted numerous investigations of online trade in wildlife since 2005 in China and has received enormous support from government agencies and the Internet companies,” said Grace Ge Gabriel, IFAW’s Asia Regional Director. “It is extremely satisfying to see that the results of our investigation were used to enhance law enforcement, and 95% of the illegal wildlife items we found in online trade were eliminated by the Web site companies.”
"Taobao takes corporate social responsibility seriously,” said Yong Zhang, Chief Operation Officer of Taobao. “We want our clients to conduct trade in a safe, green and animal-friendly environment.”
Dr. Meng Xianlin, Deputy Director General of China CITES Management Authority, commended the collaborative efforts and urged participation by more auction sites and the public.