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London – Online technology companies in the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online have reported removing or blocking over three million listings for endangered and threatened species and associated products from their online platforms since 2017. These listings included live tigers, reptiles, primates and birds for the exotic pet trade, as well as products derived from species such as elephants, pangolins and marine turtles.
Offline and in the Wild, a report released today about progress made by companies involved in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)-convened coalition, finds that efforts taken by these companies are helping to shut down the cloud-based trade routes cybercriminals rely on for exploiting wildlife.
Mike Carson, Director of Global Policy and Regulatory Management at eBay, said: “eBay has been fighting online wildlife trafficking on our marketplace for over a decade. We’re collaborating with government agencies, NGOs, industry peers and members of the eBay community to help us enforce our Animal and Wildlife Products policy in alignment with the Coalition’s wildlife policy framework, and it’s working. In 2019, we blocked or removed over 165,000 listings globally that are prohibited under this policy.”
The Coalition’s progress has resulted from strengthened wildlife policies, an increase in staff ability to detect potential illegal wildlife products and live wild animals, regular monitoring and data sharing from wildlife experts, reports sent in by volunteers through the Coalition’s Wildlife Cyber Spotter Programme, enhanced algorithms – thanks to key search word monitoring and collation – and shared learning.
“Criminal networks are taking advantage of internet platforms at the expense of the rarest species nature has to offer,” said Crawford Allan, Senior Director for TRAFFIC at WWF. “But the vastness of the internet presents a challenge for law enforcement to regulate. The online companies in our Coalition now have the smarts and tools to fight back against wildlife trafficking online, and can help ease the burden on law enforcement.”
The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online was born out of the global proliferation of internet access and resulting shift in illegal wildlife trade transactions from physical to online markets. The extensive number of listings removed to date demonstrates both the long-term effectiveness of the partnership and the continued commitment of the companies to prevent wildlife trafficking on their platforms.
Tania McCrea-Steele, International Project Manager, Wildlife Crime at IFAW, said: “Uniting online technology companies is critical in the fight against wildlife cybercrime as wildlife traffickers are abusing the anonymity of the internet to exploit endangered wildlife. Tragically, you can find elephant ivory, pangolin scales, live tiger cubs, live birds and reptiles and more, all for sale on your smart phone. The online technology companies are a core part of the solution as they are able to work at an unprecedented global scale and disrupt illegal wildlife trafficking.”
In addition to blocking or removing illegal wildlife trade related information, Coalition companies have launched user engagement initiatives to promote wildlife conservation and reach millions of internet users.
Individuals can join the fight against wildlife cybercrime and support the efforts of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online by not buying wildlife products and reporting suspicious wildlife listings online to companies.
IFAW, TRAFFIC and WWF train citizen science volunteers on how to identify prohibited wildlife products online through the Coalition’s Wildlife Cyber Spotter Programme. So far, Coalition Cyber Spotters in the US, Germany and Singapore have flagged over 4,000 prohibited listings for sale online. These listings have been removed in real time by Coalition company enforcement teams. Through the programme, Cyber Spotters have helped uncover new seller keywords and identify wildlife trafficking trends that have helped companies’ ongoing monitoring efforts.
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Clare Sterling on mobile +44 (0)7917 507717 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to Editors:
The total number of listings for endangered and threatened species reported to have been removed by online technology companies in the Coalition is 3,335,381, since 2017. The Coalition was publicly launched two years ago.
About the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online
The Coalition is comprised of 34 companies; Alibaba, Artron, Baidu, Baixing, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Huaxia Collection, Hantang Collection, Instagram, Kuaishou, Kupatana, Mall for Africa, Leboncoin, letgo, Microsoft, OfferUp, OLX, Pinterest, Qyer, Rakuten, Ruby Lane, Sapo, Shengshi Collection, Sina Weibo, Sougou, Tencent, Tortoise Friends, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhong Hua Gu Wan, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan and 58 Group, and is jointly convened by IFAW, TRAFFIC and WWF.
About the International Fund for Animal Welfare
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit helping animals and people thrive together. We are experts and everyday people, working across seas, oceans and in more than 40 countries around the world. We rescue, rehabilitate and release animals, and we restore and protect their natural habitats. The problems we’re up against are urgent and complicated. To solve them, we match fresh thinking with bold action. We partner with local communities, governments, non-governmental organisations and businesses. Together, we pioneer new and innovative ways to help all species flourish. See how at ifaw.org.