We’re working to cut both supply and demand in the world’s biggest marketplace: the internet.
To stop wildlife crime, we need to be in marketplaces as much as we need to be in national parks. Today, that means going to the world’s largest marketplace: the internet.
Open on any day, at any hour, and in any place, the internet has made it exponentially easier for buyers and sellers to find each other. In one report, we found ads featuring more than 30,000 animals—everything from ivory and suspected ivory items to live monkeys, reptiles, and birds—in just six weeks.
For buyers, this might sound like a dream. But for animals, it’s a nightmare. They can be kept in terrible conditions, leaving them cramped, malnourished, and sick. In transit, their conditions get even worse. Huge numbers of animals are also killed every year to supply the demand for their products.
Sectors must unite to fight this global threat. IFAW acts as a convener across the public and private sectors, working closely with governments, academia, law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations, online marketplaces, and social media platforms to deliver joint projects and activities and provide them with data, information, and training to identify and combat wildlife cybercrime.
We’re working with a wide range of partners to disrupt wildlife cybercrime. With police forces, we’re empowering them by sharing information, delivering critical equipment and training, and developing tools and resources to help them detect and disrupt digital criminal activities. With businesses, we’re developing policies that will eliminate wildlife crime on their digital platforms.
And we’re addressing the source of the problem: potential buyers. We’re raising public awareness about the dangers of buying animals and animal parts online and also developing initiatives to counter wildlife trafficking that aim to influence attitudes, perceptions, and behaviours. We’re publishing research on the prevalence of this problem and releasing helpful tips and tools to show consumers how they can avoid it.
Lastly, we’re working on international conventions to ensure there is the political will to tackle this problem, and we’re supporting governments that are strengthening their laws to prevent wildlife trafficking online.
Since 2006, IFAW has advocated for international legal frameworks to tackle wildlife cybercrime. In June 2007, at the CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP), more than 170 countries agreed to a Resolution and Decision that provided a road map for governments to combat online wildlife traffickers. This success has been built on and most recently led to an amended Resolution and a new Decision to tackle wildlife crime linked to the internet at CITES CoP in August 2019 and the adoption in 2022 of the 050 IUCN motion targeting illegal online wildlife trade.
Five years after the launch of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online in 2018, together with WWF and TRAFFIC, the Coalition comprises 46 companies with over 11 billion user accounts. Company partners have reported blocking or removing more than 11 million listings that violated wildlife policies. Listings included live big cats, reptiles, primates, and birds for the exotic pet trade and parts from species like elephants, pangolins, and marine turtles.
Over the past five years, IFAW has provided more than 30 trainings globally to over 1,500 enforcers in China and 200 in Europe and produced tools to facilitate combating wildlife cybercrime.
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