The illegal wildlife trade has increasingly moved online. It’s very difficult to stop the smuggling there, due to anonymity and the vast number of for sale postings and the ease with which smugglers and sellers can just switch from one online site to another.
So it’s great news that WWF, TRAFFIC and IFAW are launching the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking online.
The launch brings together technology, e-commerce and social media companies. Law enforcement can’t do it all – so the technology businesses are a good place to start; they can take down ads before they are even put up.
Animals are sold every day online, pushing many species towards extinction. Rhino horn is carved into bowls and trinkets, and used in tradition medicine. Ivory becomes statuettes, chopsticks, jewellery and more.
The launch of this initiative is very exciting.
Companies will address the various problems in tackling online wildlife trafficking in various ways, using their expertise. Algorithms using maching learning to detect keyword and flag posts before they go up online will be a start.
WWF is helping to train companies’ teams to evaluate posts individually. Users can become the ears and eyes of the company, and report anything which slips through the net.
Companies will share knowledge about trends and best practices to develop priorities and prevent loopholes.
It’s very heart-warming to see the way in which these technology giants are willing to help.
The founding coalition are: Alibaba, Baidu, Baixing, e-Bay, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Huaxia Collection, Instagram, Kuaishou, Mall for Africa, Microsoft, Pininterest, Qyer, Ruby Lane, Shengshi Collection, Tencent, W3en Wan Tian Zia, Zhongyikupai, Zhuanzhuan and 58 Group.
WWF says, "The companies have committed to bringing down the online illegal trade in threatened species by 80 per cent by 2020."
A big well done to everyone for getting this off the ground. Elephants, pangolins, rhinos, marine turtles, tigers - these are just a few endangered species who need our help
Your company can join in and help stop wildlife trafficking and help endangered species. Find out how here
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Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa