Illegal wildlife trade the world over is steadily shifting towards digital platforms and online markets.
This poses a multitude of regulatory, enforcement and conservation challenges as rapidly evolving technology affords many illegal traders and criminal syndicates a level of anonymity never before seen. The breadth and variety of e-commerce and social media channels, and the rapid and hidden exchanges they enable traffickers, buyers and sellers to conduct, makes the need to tackle wildlife cybercrime a priority issue.
In partnership with the world’s biggest online companies we're now fighting back against wildlife cybercriminals seeking to exploit web-based platforms to profit from endangered wildlifeGiavanna Grein, TRAFFIC Program Officer
Advances in technology and connectivity across the world, combined with rising buying power and demand for illegal wildlife products, have increased the ease of exchange from poacher to consumer.
As a result, a largely unregulated online market allows criminals to sell illegally obtained wildlife products across the globe. Purchasing elephant ivory, tiger cubs, and pangolin scales is as easy as click, pay, ship.
Over 20,000 African Elephants continue to be poached for their ivory each year.
The rise of ivory processing by organised criminal syndicates or Chinese origin has increased the challenges facing international enforcement agencies. Consumer demand for ivory varies between jewellery such as beads, bangles or pendants, and ornamental pieces.
Pangolins are the most internationally trafficked mammal, suffering alarming levels of poaching to satisfy consumer demand.
Scales, meat and body parts are the most sought-after products found online, with leather pieces made from their scales becoming an online regularity also. One million pangolins are estimated to have been trafficked within the last decade.
Rhino horn is prized in China and Viet Nam for its perceived health benefits. Recent years have also seen it become a status symbol amongst wealthy middle classes and business elites.
Rhino horn is predominantly ground into powder, and diluted with wine or water into a drinkable solution, or else gifted as ornamental cups or raw horn. Three rhinos are poached a day in South Africa alone.
Tigers have suffered massive population declines in recent decade, with estimates placing their numbers in the wild at approximately 3,800.
Tigers are trafficked as live cubs, or else as furs, pelts, claws, bones or teeth, often for use in the traditional medicine sector. The growth of tiger farming in Asia has exacerbated the issue, driving demand and allowing wild-caught tigers to be laundered into the trade.
The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online unites tech companies across continents in partnership with wildlife trade experts at WWF, TRAFFIC and IFAW for a collaborative approach to shutting down online trafficking routes for wildlife cybercriminals.
The partners of this coalition include Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, eBay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Huaxia Collection, Instagram, Kuaishou, Mall for Africa, Microsoft, Pinterest, Qyer, Rakuten, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, Wen Wan Tian Xia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan and 58 Group, facilitated by WWF, TRAFFIC and IFAW.
Shutting down global online illegal wildlife trade requires an integrated, international solution.
TRAFFIC, WWF and IFAW are convening dialogues between partners to share lessons learned and best practices. As wildlife experts, we're providing companies with updated global and regional trade trend data, training materials, policy guidance and educational information. What we've learnt is been applied regionally and across the world.
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