3 Million Online Listings Of Trafficked Wildlife Taken Down By Major Tech Companies; Listings Included Endangered Tigers & Primates

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The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, which is made up of a group of tech companies and wildlife organizations, has removed and blocked over three million listings of endangered and threatened species and associated products from their online platforms. These listings included: live tigers, reptiles, primates and birds from the exotic pet trade, as well as products derived from species such as elephants, pangolins and marine turtles.

A report released last week titled Offline and in the Wild, about progress made by companies involved in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) coalition, finds that efforts taken by these companies are helping to shut down the cloud-based trade routes cybercriminals rely on for exploiting wildlife.

eBay has been fighting online wildlife trafficking on our marketplace for over a decade,” Mike Carson, Director of Global Policy and Regulatory Management at eBay, said in a statement. “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 is the result of strengthened wildlife policies, an increase in staff’s 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 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 the resulting shift in illegal wildlife trade transactions from physical to online markets. The extensive number of listings removed by the Coalition’s second anniversary demonstrates both the long-term effectiveness of the partnership and the continued commitment of the companies to prevent wildlife trafficking on their platforms.

“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, birds, reptiles and more, all for sale on your smart phone,” stated Tania McCrea-Steele, International Project Manager of Wildlife Crime at IFAW. “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, the Coalition has launched user engagement initiatives to promote wildlife conservation reaching millions of internet users.

“Wildlife crime is a widely recognized global problem which demands a global solution,” said Siyao, Security Expert at Alibaba. “The Coalition provides a platform for online technology companies to contribute to this solution together. At Alibaba, we share our lessons learned and continuously learn from other Coalition members on how to better curb and prevent wildlife trafficking online by investing in innovative technology and engaging the public to join the fight for wildlife.”

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. Prohibited wildlife products found online can be flagged for removal HERE!

WWF, IFAW, and TRAFFIC train citizen science volunteers on how to identify prohibited wildlife products online through the Coalition’s Wildlife Cyber Spotter Program. So far, Coalition Cyber Spotters in the U.S., 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 program, Cyber Spotters have helped uncover new seller keywords and identify wildlife trafficking trends that have helped companies’ ongoing monitoring efforts.

Interested individuals can sign up for the Wildlife Cyber Spotter Program HERE!

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