Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Zero-Tolerance Declared Against Illegal Online Wildlife Trading

Tigers, leopards, and pangolins seized in Thailand.

It has been recently reported that fifteen leading e-commerce companies based in China have signed a declaration saying that they have a zero-tolerance policy towards their services being used to carry out illegal trading of wildlife. The statement states that buyers and sellers must abide by all aspects of China's Wild Animal Protection Law, and rules under CITES (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species) governing in trade of such illicit goods. The declaration was allotted following a workshop on regulating the illegal wildlife trade online by the National Forest Police Bureau of the State Forestry Administration (SFA) in alliance with TRAFFIC earlier this month. The workshop was attended by more than thirty participants from the National Forest Police Bureau, Network Security Bureau of Ministry of Public Security, Wildlife Conservation Department of SFA, China's CITES Management Authority, e-commerce websites, and TRAFFIC. During the workshop, representatives from all e-commerce companies read and signed the "Commitment to Zero-tolerance of illegal online wildlife trade. Among the companies that signed the declaration included Alibaba, Taobao, and Tencent. Due to the popularity of the internet, the availability of illegal wildlife products online has been making progress as a number of websites are illegally offering "high profile" animal species or body parts such as elephant, rhinoceros, sea turtles, and tiger. In April, TRAFFIC discovered 3,389 advertisements for elephant ivory, hawksbill turtle, rhino horn, and tiger bone products being offered through fifteen Chinese-language e-commerce websites and affiliated auction sites and chat rooms.

I'm very proud to see what different China-based e-commerce companies have done, in order to help combat the illegal wildlife trade. The recent discovery made by TRAFFIC in April is a clear indication of how the wildlife trade has been flourishing thanks to technology. For this reason, such companies have adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards being used to conduct illegal activities. However,  there are also thousands of other such e-commerce companies across China that are specializing in selling wild animals and their body parts. This is why it is extremely crucial to tackle this issue of illegal online wildlife trade, and one of the ways would be to form alliances with other nations from where such animals come from. In addition to that, there should also be community involvement to combat the issue with educational awareness conveying the message to never buy illegal wildlife products online.

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