Internet helping illegal wildlife traders

Items such as rhinoceros horns, leopard pelts and even live tiger cubs are being hawked openly in online advertisements on public websites, said Grace Ge, Asian regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

The Internet offers anonymity for the seller as well as fast and untraceable sales, while inadequate legislation governing online companies ensures relative impunity, she said at a regional animal right conference held in Singapore.

“The Internet has facilitated the trading of wildlife, which is having a devastating effect on animals and ecosystems worldwide,” she said.

Through the Internet, traders are able to “circumvent rules, regulations and evade enforcement”, Ge told delegates to the Asia for Animals 2010 conference.

Citing an IFAW study on the illegal online wildlife trade in 2008, Ge said there was a “huge volume of wildlife and their products traded online on a daily basis”.

The research was conducted over a three-month period in 2008 in 11 countries including the United States, China, Australia and several European countries. It found 7,122 online advertisements selling endangered species or products derived from their slaughter.

The United States was a major culprit, with 70.5 percent of advertisements coming out of that country, followed by Britain and China with 7.7 percent and 7.6 percent respectively, the study showed.

Estimates of the value of final sales on these websites totaled more than 457,000 dollars, but the actual amount was likely to be higher as most sites did not advertise their prices, according to the study.


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Internet helping illegal wildlife traders