- Date: September 29, 2021
From elephant ivory to tiger cubs, buying illegal wildlife parts online can be as simple as click, pay, and ship. Fortunately, 47 online technology companies have come together as members of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online to eliminate such trade from their platforms. And they’ve been successful: the companies reported removing or blocking more than 11.6 million listings for prohibited and endangered species and associated products since 2018. These listings included live tigers, reptiles, primates, and birds for the exotic pet trade, as well as products derived from species like elephants, pangolins, and marine turtles.
Coalition companies also raised awareness of threats to wildlife as well as an understanding of what is prohibited on company platforms and ways for users to report suspicious listings.
Since the launch of the Coalition by WWF, TRAFFIC, and IFAW in 2018, the number of companies participating more than doubled from 21 to 47, now including companies with operations across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas and comprising more than 11 billion user accounts around the world.
“Since the release of the Coalition’s 2020 progress report 18 months ago, Coalition companies have removed an additional 8.3 million listings for prohibited wildlife,” said Crawford Allan, senior director of TRAFFIC at WWF. “This is due to increased availability of wildlife online and subsequent response by companies to address this threat, including enhanced automated detection systems. Overall, it is a fraction of prohibited wildlife that’s out there, but we continue to scale our impact even further with determined efforts by more companies globally.”
Coalition members ramped up efforts to tackle the problem in a variety of ways, including:
- Strengthening their wildlife policies
- Training staff to detect potential illegal wildlife products and live animals
- Taking action on suspicious listing reported by wildlife experts and volunteers in the Coalition’sWildlife Cyber Spotter Program
- Improving algorithms through provided search words
- Creating pop-up alerts and easy ways for users to report suspicious content
- Sharing best practices among member companies
Online wildlife trafficking is driven by consumer demand for wildlife products like elephant ivory, rhino horn, and big cat skins, as well as for live exotic pets. The promotion of exotic pet ownership and interactions on social media are further driving consumer demand and therefore, the supply. Illegal wildlife trade, both online and in physical markets, decimates populations of wild species and contributes to the catastrophic biodiversity loss seen globally.