A coalition of companies in technology industry has agreed to render online platforms and apps inoperable for wildlife traffickers to trade in endangered species.
A group of e-commerce, technology and social media firms globally, will work with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Traffic International and International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) experts.
The annual value of wildlife crime globally is $20 billion. Over 20,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks and about three rhinos are poached daily in South Africa for their horn.
Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online’s goal is to stop or reduce trafficking on Internet platforms by 80 per cent by 2020.
The WWF, Traffic and Ifaw will provide trade trends data, training materials, policy guidance and educational information to help users spot illegal products.
The Coalition said it was vital to ensure social media and e-commerce platforms are not exploited by traffickers as traditional physical markets for wildlife trade become more obsolete.
Mall for Africa, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, Huaxia Collection, Qyer, Kuaishou, Pinterest, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan, 58 Group, Google, Microsoft and Tencent have joined the coalition.
Each company will develop, implement policies and solutions to help end wildlife trafficking online in collaboration with WWF, Traffic and Ifaw that are currently involved in monitoring global trade in endangered species.
WWF’s senior director for wildlife crime and traffic Crawford Allan said criminals are making a killing from selling rare wildlife species and products made from their parts because of inconsistent policies across the web.
“Inconsistent enforcement creates a “whack-a-mole” effect, where adverts may be removed from one site to pop up somewhere else. These companies see the problem and are uniting to ensure an Internet where traffickers have nowhere left to turn,” Mr Allan said.
It takes just minutes to find wildlife for sale online, everything from trinkets like elephant ivory carvings to live animals like tiger cubs. These sales are generally illegal and in breach of a site’s rules.
The global connectivity and relative anonymity of sellers, combined with rapid transport enables wildlife traffickers to buy, sell, and ship animals and wildlife products with just an instant online transaction.