Breaking! Powerful New Global Coalition Led By TRAFFIC Aims To Reduce Wildlife Trade Online By 80% By 2020!

Some positive news followed on the heels of WAN’s article about a new online market place, Rhino Horn Trade Africa (RHTA), which was recently launched in South Africa to support and facilitate the domestic trade of rhino horns which is abhorrently yet astonishingly legal in the Country.

An announcement this morning by TRAFFIC revealed that 21 tech companies from North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa have come together to form the first-ever Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online.

Members of the coalition will develop and implement online platforms and apps inoperable for wildlife traffickers to trade in endangered and threatened species. The intent of the new policies is to reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020.

“Bringing these industry giants together is the best shot at systematically closing the open web to wildlife traffickers,” Crawford Allan, Senior Director, Wildlife Crime at TRAFFIC said in a statement. “These sites are unwittingly being abused by criminals that are making a killing from selling rare species and products made from their parts. Inconsistent policies across the web invariably create a ‘whack-a-mole’ effect, where ads may be removed from one site just to pop up somewhere else. These companies see the problem and are uniting to ensure an internet where traffickers have nowhere left to turn.”

It takes just minutes to find dubious wildlife for sale online, including everything from trinkets like elephant ivory carvings, to live animals like tiger or cheetah cubs. These sales are generally illegal and in breach of a site’s rules.

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

As more traders and consumers move online globally and traditional physical markets for wildlife trade become more obsolete, it is a critical time to ensure that social media and e-commerce platforms cannot be exploited by the loopholes to detection created by wildlife traffickers.

“Tencent has always adopted a zero tolerance towards illegal wildlife trade on its platform and a direct portal enables users to report suspected wildlife trafficking on Tencent’s WeChat platform under our ‘Penguin Love Earth’ project,” said Shu Mengying, Manager of Tencent Security Management Department.

The annual value of wildlife crime is as much as $20 billion, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

As per TRAFFIC, more than 20,000 African Elephants are illegally killed each year for their tusks, and nearly three rhinos are poached each day in South Africa alone for their horns. Countless species are under threat from trafficking, accelerated by online access to consumers, most of whom are unaware that the product they are buying could be devastating species populations and funding crime gangs.

Addressing this issue in partnership with these companies is a critical step toward ensuring a world without rhinos, elephants and thousands of other creatures does not become a reality.

The founding members of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online are Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Huaxia Collection, Instagram, Kuaishou, Mall for Africa, Microsoft, Pinterest, Qyer, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan and 58 Group, convened by TRAFFIC, WWF and IFAW.

TRAFFIC’s facilitation of the establishment of the global internet companies’ coalition was supported by the UK Government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

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