Leading Tech Companies Unite To Stop Online Wildlife Traffickers
Today, 21 tech companies from North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa came together as the first-ever Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. As members of this coalition, tech companies pledge to work together to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020. In collaboration with WWF, TRAFFIC, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), each company will develop and implement policies and solutions to help end wildlife trafficking online.
This comes as great news for countries such as Malaysia, which in recent years has seen a rise of online illegal wildlife trade syndicates. “Close to a year ago, a successful operation by PERHILITAN exposed one of the largest online wildlife trafficking syndicates in Malaysia. Syndicates such as these have shifted their modus operandi towards utilising social media and online trading sites to peddle endangered wildlife and their parts. As we know, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is the most critical and urgent threat to the survival of many iconic species in Malaysia, including the critically endangered Malayan tiger. We are now exploring possibilities of more intelligence-based teams to support special operations and in-depth wildlife crime investigations with our partners and stakeholders alike. The new global coalition to combat wildlife trafficking in the digital space will definitely support our vision of achieving zero poaching in the country,” shared Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
“Bringing these industry giants together is the best shot at systematically closing the open web to wildlife traffickers,” said Crawford Allan, Senior Director of Wildlife Crime & TRAFFIC at WWF. “Criminals are making a killing from selling rare species and products made from their parts. Inconsistent policies and enforcement 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 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 an instant online transaction. 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.
The annual value of wildlife crime globally is as much as $20 billion, according to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). More than 20,000 African elephants are illegally killed each year for trade in 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.
“Google is proud to partner with WWF as a founding member of this Coalition, and to join other companies in working to protect endangered species from illegal wildlife trade online,” said David Graff, Senior Director, Trust and Safety Global Product Policy, Google.
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 WWF, TRAFFIC, and IFAW.
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WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost six million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. TRAFFIC works closely with its founding organizations, IUCN and WWF, making a critical contribution to the achievement of their conservation goals.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organization that protects animals and the places they call home. IFAW has offices in 17 countries and projects in over 40 countries, with over 200 experienced campaigners, legal and political experts, and internationally acclaimed scientists. Our work connects wildlife rescue and conservation, as we believe that the value of the individual animal is linked to the health of the population and ecosystem at large.
For more information, please contact:
Communications Manager, Peninsular Malaysia Conservation Programme (WWF-Malaysia)
Tel: +603-7450 3773
**If you are interested in speaking with an NGO expert or representatives from participating companies, please contact:
Elizabeth Davis, WWF
Richard Thomas, TRAFFIC
+44 (0)1223 331981
Kerry Branon, IFAW
+1 (508) 776-9872