BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 17 Mar '18

Google, Microsoft, Facebook and eBay among 21 tech companies uniting to reduce online wildlife trafficking 80% by 2020

The world’s top e-commerce, technology and social media companies are joining forces to put an end to the online illegal wildlife trade.

The companies have committed to bringing down the online illegal trade in threatened species by 80% by 2020.

The first-ever Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, convened by WWF, TRAFFIC and IFAW, has been joined by 21 global technology giants including Google, Microsoft, eBay, Etsy, Facebook and Instagram.

As members of the coalition, the companies pledge to work together and for each company to develop and implement policies to help end wildlife trafficking online.

Online trafficking

It takes just minutes to find illegal wildlife products for sale online, from elephant ivory carvings to live tigers and cheetah cubs. These sales are generally illegal and in breach of a site’s rules.

However, the internet’s global connectivity, the relative anonymity of sellers and the rapid transport of online sales enable wildlife traffickers to buy, sell and ship animals and wildlife products with just a few clicks.

The challenge has been that inconsistent policies across the web have meant removed ads simply pop up on other sites.

As more traders and consumers move online globally, it’s a critical time to ensure that social media and e-commerce platforms cannot be exploited by the loopholes to detection created by wildlife traffickers.

‘Around 20,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks, nearly three rhinos are poached each day in South Africa alone for their horns and one pangolin is taken from the wild every five minutes. Protecting these and countless other incredible animals from this brutal trade can only ever work with global commitments. This pledge from some of the biggest players in tech will make a major difference to the online illegal wildlife trade.’

DR NIKI RUST
Technical adviser for wildlife at WWF

The annual value of wildlife crime is estimated to be over £15 billion a year, and countless species are under threat from trafficking. The issue is being amplified by online access to consumers, who may not be aware that the product they’re buying could be devastating species populations and funding crime gangs.

In October the UK will host a major conference on the illegal wildlife trade, a hugely important meeting at which WWF hopes to see global leaders make strong commitments to put an end to wildlife crime once and for all.