Tech Industry Leaders Join Forces against Online Wildlife Trafficking

On World Elephant Day, online companies unite against wildlife cybercriminals by adopting measures to fight illegal wildlife trade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On World Elephant Day, leading e-commerce and social media companies are implementing critical steps to stop the sale of illegal wildlife products online across the globe.

Today, seven companies, including eBay, Etsy, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo!, have adopted a global, standardized wildlife policy framework in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). This comprehensive policy will simplify shopping guidelines for consumers, identify prohibited products and eliminate the loopholes that make it easy for criminals to traffic wildlife online. This united front by the tech industry minimizes the whack-a-mole effect where criminals move from site to site to avoid detection. These companies are working together to protect wildlife.

In a recent three-year period, approximately 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory; rhino poaching increased by 9300% in South Africa from 2007-2014; tiger populations have plummeted by 97 percent in the last century, leaving only approximately 3,900 left in the wild; and more than 1 million pangolins have been poached from the wild in the last decade alone.

Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President of WWF said “To solve big challenges like wildlife crime, everyone must play a part. The power and reach of these companies joining forces with the conservation community is groundbreaking, and will help protect threatened species from online trade. The problem doesn’t end here, but this is a crucial first step in removing the internet as a channel for wildlife traffickers.”

“We have seen the “whack-a-mole effect,” where one online company hits back hard by tightening up its policy and efforts to close loopholes, then traffickers pop up on other sites to trade unimpeded,” said Crawford Allan, Senior Director Wildlife Crime, TRAFFIC. “With a united front, the mainstream global companies adopting a shared policy and approach will shrink the potential market access for wildlife criminals and protect consumers from being unwitting drivers of the poaching crisis.”

“Tragically, unscrupulous criminals are exploiting the power of the internet in order to profit from extinction and animal suffering,” said Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. ”It is tremendously encouraging to see that leading online marketplaces and social media platforms are fighting back against wildlife cybercriminals to stamp out the illegal sale of endangered wildlife from their sites.

For more information about the policy, click here.