Tech giants unite to end online wildlife trafficking
A coalition of the world’s largest technologies companies has committed to bring down online wildlife trafficking by 80% over the next two years.
A total of 21 firms, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and eBay will work together to develop policies that help end the criminal trade, estimated to be worth over £15bn every year.
Convened by the WWF, the group will receive advice from wildlife experts to stop the spread of illegal wildlife products through their e-commerce, technology, and social media platforms.
“This pledge from some of the biggest players in tech will make a major difference to the online illegal wildlife trade,” WWF technical adviser, Dr Niki Rust, said.
“Around 20,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks, nearly three rhinos are poached each day in South Africa alone for their horns, and one pangolin is taken from the wild every five minutes.”
The WWF said 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 a few clicks”.
So far, inconsistent policies across the web have meant that when an advert is removed, it simply reappears somewhere else, with the NGO arguing that addressing this will require global commitments.
Google senior director, David Graff, said: "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.”
This comes after the UK government proposed a ban on ivory sales to halt the illegal poaching of elephants, with a public consultation closing at the end of last year.
In addition, an ivory trade ban in China officially came into force at the start of 2018, with the country having long been the world's largest market for ivory.
“It’s critical that China’s neighbours follow suit and shut down ivory markets across Asia,” WWF senior vice president, Ginette Hemley said. “The fate of Africa’s elephants depends on global rejection of ivory trade.”
Image credit: iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM