Educating European Parliament on wildlife trade online

IFAW co-hosted a seminar for the European Parliament, as South America and Africa rely on Europe as a major trade route to other parts of the world.The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and MEPs for Wildlife co-hosted a European Parliament seminar “Exposing Online Wildlife Trade.”

Chaired by MEP Catherine Bearder, it brought together customs, eBay, and Commission representatives on CITES and organised crime.Presenters at the European Parliament seminar “Exposing Online Wildlife Trade” pictured left to right: Wolfgang Weber (eBay), Gaël de Rotalier (Commission-DG ENV), Staci McLennan (IFAW), Frederick Vanneste (Belgian Customs Cybersquad), Catherine Bearder (MEP), and Michele Socco (Commission –DG HOME).

IFAW’s latest internet investigation, Wanted Dead or Alive: Exposing Online Wildlife Trade, surveyed 280 websites in 16 countries over a six-week period and found 33,006 endangered animals and products available for sale.

While China had the most items for sale, the EU was also a major player. Of the six EU countries investigated, ivory or live animals were the most frequently offered items.

Mr. Wolfgang Weber of eBay detailed the challenges for online providers in tackling possible illegal wildlife trade.]

Some online marketplaces have adopted policies targeting wildlife trade.  Since 2009, eBay globally banned ivory sales due to the complexity of verifying legal (e.g. antique) versus illegal ivory. Ebay’s Wolfgang Weber called for providers to work with enforcers to fight illegal trade, but cautioned that efforts must also be made to address the demand side for endangered animals and products.

Customs can play a vital role in fighting internet wildlife crime. The Belgian Customs Cybersquad representative noted Europol and a specialised working group of customs cybercrime units are working to fight internet crime.

Europe acts as a major trade route from South America and Africa to other parts of the world. The abundance of postal items and growing rate of e-commerce present challenges to tackling illegal trade sold over the internet. Actions to address cybercrime include identifying sellers trading illegally, taking down accounts, screening postal packages and monitoring internet transactions via specialised tools.

Legal frameworks, private-public partnerships, increased capacity and enforcement training are needed to tackle wildlife cybercrime according to DG HOME’s organised crime representative. He noted that investigations into other forms of organised crime, such as drugs and human trafficking, may also result in capturing offenders of wildlife crime.


Mr. Gaël de Rotalier from European Commission’s DG Environment discusses the development of a roadmap for an EU Wildlife Trafficking Action Plan.

DG Environment noted that the EU Wildlife Trafficking Action Plan that is currently being drafted could serve to tackle issues raised by the speakers by also exploring how to work with the various actors to address the entire wildlife crime trade chain. A draft roadmap should be published for comments this summer with the final plan to be adopted by early 2016.

IFAW was encouraged by the discussion between the speakers on how online marketplaces, enforcers, CITES and experts in combating organised crime can collaborate to tackle the growing threat of wildlife cybercrime.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy