BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 16 August '16

Microsoft and eBay among tech leaders uniting against illegal wildlife trafficking online

Leading e-commerce and social media companies are implementing critical steps to stop the sale of illegal wildlife products online across the globe.

Tackling trafficking

Etsy, eBay, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo! have adopted a global, standardised wildlife policy framework in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

‘To solve big challenges like wildlife crime, everyone must play a part. The power and reach of these companies joining forces with the conservation community is groundbreaking, and will help protect threatened species from online trade. The problem doesn’t end here, but this is a crucial first step in removing the internet as a channel for wildlife traffickers.’

GINETTE HEMLEY
Senior vice president of WWF

This united front by the tech industry minimises the ‘whack-a-mole’ effect where criminals move from site to site to avoid detection. These companies are working together to protect wildlife.

The comprehensive policy will simplify shopping guidelines for consumers, identify prohibited products and eliminate the loopholes that make it easy for criminals to traffic wildlife online.

‘We have seen the ‘whack-a-mole effect’, where one online company hits back hard by tightening up its policy and efforts to close loopholes, then traffickers pop up on other sites to trade unimpeded.

‘With a united front, the mainstream global companies adopting a shared policy and approach will shrink the potential market access for wildlife criminals and protect consumers from being unwitting drivers of the poaching crisis.’

CRAWFORD ALLAN
Senior director Wildlife Crime, TRAFFIC

Exploiting the internet

Demand for the rare and exotic has fuelled an international poaching and trafficking surge that is threatening the survival of the world’s most iconic species and wild places. With increased global access to technology and connectivity along supply chain routes, the internet has unintentionally become a thriving platform for buyers and sellers to trade illegal wildlife products.

In a recent three-year period, approximately 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory; rhino poaching increased by 9,300% in South Africa from 2007-2014; tiger populations have plummeted by 97% in the last century, leaving only approximately 3,900 left in the wild and more than 1 million pangolins have been poached from the wild in the last decade alone.

‘Tragically, unscrupulous criminals are exploiting the power of the internet in order to profit from extinction and animal suffering.

‘It is tremendously encouraging to see that leading online marketplaces and social media platforms are fighting back against wildlife cybercriminals to stamp out the illegal sale of endangered wildlife from their sites.’

PETER LAFONTAINE
Campaigns manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare

Examples of prohibited wildlife products include products derived from bear species of concern (such as the Asiatic black bear, giant panda, sloth bear and sun bear), big cats, cetaceans (such as dolphins, porpoises and whales), elkhorn or staghorn corals, elephants, marine turtles, pangolins, primates, reptile and amphibian species of concern, rhinos, shark fins and sawfish rostra (sawfish bill) and Tibetan antelope (Chiru).

Click here for more information about the policy for e-commerce and social media companies.