Tech giant Baidu joins IFAW to save wildlife

Tech giant Baidu joins IFAW to save wildlife
Friday, 22 June, 2018
Beijing, China

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Baidu, the leading Chinese language internet search provider, launched an historical initiative to protect biodiversity, at Baidu’s headquarters in Beijing. 

In the joint initiative, named “DU AI Biodiversity”, Baidu plans to apply internet technologies, including artificial intelligence and big data, to combat wildlife cybercrime. Applying its wildlife conservation expertise, IFAW will develop solutions jointly with Baidu to reduce wildlife trafficking and illegal trade online, as well as mobilize society for biodiversity conservation.

“Criminals exploiting loopholes online to trade in wildlife parts and products poses a grave threat to endangered species such as elephants, rhinos, pangolins, tigers, reptiles and birds.” said Grace Gabriel, IFAW Asia Regional Director. “I’m delighted that IFAW, in partnership with Baidu, is going to explore innovative technologies in fighting wildlife crime online.”

With corporate social responsibility as a core company priority, Baidu actively works to curb the trade of endangered species across all its platforms. As a part of this effort, Baidu launched its Biodiversity Conservation Project in March of 2017. Over the past year, through collaboration with the government and NGOs, as well as instituting more stringent guidelines for its platforms such as text and image search and Baidu PostBar, the company aims to curtail online criminal activity and raise public awareness about this important issue. Earlier in 2018, Baidu joined the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, a joint initiative of global tech companies and conservation groups. As a founding member, Baidu pledged to work with other partners to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020. Baidu has also promoted IFAW’s ivory demand reduction messages to hundreds of millions of its search users.

“Baidu is proud to support IFAW and its meaningful work. As a company, we believe we have an integral role to play in the global effort to protect wildlife and are confident that leveraging our technology can make a difference to that end. We will continue to optimize our strategy for combating online wildlife trafficking and will work with our partners like IFAW, as well as other stakeholders, to help reduce and prevent wildlife cybercrime in China and worldwide,” said Liu Miaomiao, Associate Director at Baidu’s Business Supervision Department who heads the DU AI Biodiversity program at the company.

Around the world, billions of netizens use social media and internet every day, and that number just keeps growing. IFAW’s online monitoring also observes a surge in wildlife cybercrime in terms of both scale of the illegal trade and channels used. According to IFAW’s 2014 report Wanted–Dead or Alive, Exposing Online Wildlife Trade, within just 6 weeks, 280 online markets in 16 countries sold over 30,000 animal products and live animals. Researchers found 9,482 advertisements about products of endangered animals and wildlife, with their estimated value in excess of US $10-million.

As early as 2008, IFAW has worked with China’s e-commerce giants Alibaba and Taobao to put many endangered species into the ‘prohibited from trading list’ together with drugs, weapons and pornography. Since then, many other online purveyors including auction sites have made their online market places off-limit for wildlife trade. IFAW’s bi-monthly online monitoring of more than 20 open online platforms in China shows a sustained reduction of wildlife parts and products traded on e-commerce sites.

To counter the new trend of wildlife crime moving from open online platforms to social media channels, in 2015, social media giant Tencent, together with IFAW and The Nature Conservancy, launched an initiative to curb wildlife crime by encouraging the public to report infringing listings found on social media. The initiative, dubbed “Tencent for the Planet”, has since deleted over 1 million infringing listings, closed more than 3,500 accounts and handed over 70 significant leads to Chinese law enforcement.

 

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About IFAW

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organization that protects animals and the places they call home. IFAW has offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40 countries, with over 200 experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists. Our work connects wildlife rescue and conservation, as we believe that the value of the individual animal is linked to the health of the population and ecosystem at large.

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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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