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Killing With Keystrokes- An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web2

Killing With Keystrokes- An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web2

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Published by: Our Compass on Oct 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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International Fund for Animal Welfare 
I    e  s  t  i    g  a  t  i    o  o f    t  h   e I   l   l    e  g  a l   Wi   l    d  l   i   f    e T   a  d   e  o  t  h   e W o l    d  Wi    d   e W e  b  
With KeystroKes
e s
The rise o the Internet has revolutionized the way we
exchange ideas, information and merchandise. This is largely 
due to the medium’s ability to acilitate communicationsand new commercial and social connections around theglobe. However, as a result, the Internet is also acilitatingthe illegal trade in wildlie, which is having a devastating
effect on animals, ecosystems and the communities that rel
on them worldwide, making it one o the major wildlieconservation challenges o our generation.
The International Fund or Animal Welare (IFAW) has completed itsourth and most comprehensive investigation into the potentially illegaltrade in endangered species on the Internet. The investigation spannedthree months, involved six one-week snapshot investigations on 183 publicly accessible websites in 11 countries and looked at both the wildlie productand live animal trade in primates, birds, reptiles, big cats, bears, elephants,rhinoceros, sharks, Tibetan antelopes and sturgeon.In a six-week period, IFAW investigators tracked 7,122 online auctions,advertisements and communiqués oering trade in the Convention onInternational Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I listed wildlie, as well as a notable number o Appendix II listed species, orsale both domestically and internationally. This high volume clearly points to an even greater problem given that investigators ocusedon a limited number o species and only publicly available Web sites.
© IFAW/R. Sobol
executive summary
The results identiied the United States as being responsible or morethan two-thirds o the trade, an amount that was nearly 10 timesmore than the two countries with the next highest volume, the UnitedKingdom and China. The inal tally o veriiable commerce (excludingthe Latin America results) was approximately US$3.8 million inadvertisements and nearly US$450,000 in inal sales. While theseigures are already high, they are made even more sobering consideringthat many sites do not oer an advertised sale price and only eBay provides the means or tracking inal sales; a comprehensive tally  would likely be much higher.The results also indicate that this trade is contributing to the endanger-ment o species. It is alarming that IFAW ound elephant ivory itemsdominating the results o this investigation. It is estimated that 20,000elephants are slaughtered annually by poachers trading in tusks, andindeed, ivory appears at more than 73% o the activity monitored. Thecomplexity o laws surrounding the sale o ivory, the act that it is nearly impossible to distinguish between legal and illegal ivory on the Internet,the luid nature o the Internet and weak or absent enorcement seemto allow unscrupulous sellers to proit rom the slaughter o elephants.In 2007, eBay announced a ban on cross-border trade in elephant ivory,meaning that sales across country lines would be prohibited. Yet ayear ater the announcement o the ban, eBay was ound responsible or83% o all ivory identiied by investigators and a ull 63% o all trade inthis investigation, a signiicant amount o which shipped internationally.This demonstrates one o the key issues in global Internet trade: a strongpolicy without adequate enorcement is ineective.The investigation concludes that illegal wildlie transactions via theInternet may be ostered by low levels o awareness about guidelinesregarding trade in protected wildlie; by a lack o stringent andenorceable legislation that clearly declares trade in endangered wildlie online as a serious criminal oence; by weak monitoring andenorcement and by readily available electronic loopholes through which wildlie traickers can operate without detection. This latterpoint was most clearly evident with regard to the trade in live exoticbirds, where buyers and sellers were observed to choose Internet sitesthat oered classiied ads or message boards. The trade in live exoticbirds accounted or nearly 20% o total activity identiied in thisinvestigation, and was second only to the trade in elephant ivory.This report urges CITES, governments worldwide, Internetmarketplaces, consumers, Internet Service Providers and anyone who values our planet’s rich biodiversity to take the steps necessary to stop the illegal wildlie trade over the Internet, including:
Eacti robust domestic leislatioo Iteret wildlife tradeImplemeti ad empoweri effectiveeforcemetIcreasi public awareess of the problemDevisi ew was to moitor ad curtailthe olie trade i edaered wildlife
Number of WebsitesTrackedNumberof AdsNumber ofAds found oneBayNumber ofAds that wereElephantProductsNumber ofAds that wereExotic BirdsNumber of Adsthat OfferedInternationalShippingPercentageof Total AdsTrackedAdvertisedMonetaryValue of AllAdsValue ofFinal SalesRecorded
28 5026 3690 3921 1025 260 70.50% $1,896,827 370,365.00
22 551 289 285 217 66 7.70% $383,149 $28,719
5 544 /a 376 17 28 7.60% $654,283.00 1,266.00
11 380 249 325 10 69 5.40% $376,816.00 22,391.00
11 244 167 178 34 165 3.40% $197,922.00 29,982.00
14 151 39 90 28 31 2.10% $90,019.00 3,514.00
24 144 /a 35 43 9 2.00% $247,831.50 /a
11 82 35 13 42 32 1.20% $24,352.00 1,103.00
126712244705223141666099.90%$3,871,201.45 $457,341.68
* Data frm Argtia, Cmia ad Mxic wr t icudd i ths ga cacuatis.
i Fd f a Wf

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