Tag Archives: World Wildlife Day

TRAFFIC’s e-commerce monitoring reveals shifting illegal wildlife trade market in China

TRAFFIC Press Release
March 3, 2015
Beijing, China, 3rd March 2015—Transactions for illegal wildlife products, particularly ivory, are shifting away from online retailers and onto social media platforms according to TRAFFIC’s research into the Chinese-language online retail community.
This is a key finding of a new report, Moving targets: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China (PDF, 1 MB), which discloses the results of routine market monitoring of China’s online retailers that began in 2006 and is released today, World Wildlife Day.
At its peak in March 2012, more than 4,000 new advertisements per month for illegal wildlife products were appearing online on Chinese language online retail websites, finds the new report. More than half of the illegal products offered comprised ivory items.
However, following advertisement removal and blocking of code words used to describe illegal products through regular exchange with e-commerce and enforcement agencies by TRAFFIC, this fell dramatically to around 1,500 from July 2012 and has remained around that level ever since.
“Major online retailers in China have been important allies in efforts to stamp out illegal wildlife trade, and their efforts have resulted in a sustained decrease in advertisements for such goods, yet the high number of such advertisements remains of concern and we are also seeing a shift in the way such transactions now take place,” said Zhou Fei, Head of TRAFFIC’s China Office.
One change has been an increase in the number of code words used by sellers to conceal the identity of their goods, from 15 code words used in 2012 to 64 identified and monitored by TRAFFIC today. At least 22 code words exist for ivory, including terms such as “African materials, yellow materials, white plastic, jelly”.
All 64 code words are searched each month by TRAFFIC on 25 e-commerce and antique selling websites for eight wildlife products — ivory, rhino horn, Tiger bone, hawksbill shells, pangolin scales, leopard bones, Saiga horn and Hornbill casques.
There has also been evidence of the move to social media, where dealers release photos and information about illegal wildlife products in order to attract and interact with potential customers. Some dealers also use “agents” to extend their audiences by re-posting the information about illegal wildlife products onto their own social media platform.
“The shift into the secretive world of social media marketing creates a whole new suite of challenges, with enforcement agencies constantly seeking to keep one step ahead of the traffickers,” said Yannick Kuehl, TRAFFIC’s Regional Director for East and South Asia.
“Monitoring and policing this underground marketplace must become a top enforcement priority—it appears criminals are using it to carry out their clandestine activities.”
1. China has the world’s biggest online community with an estimated USD 274.6 billion spent in online trade in 2014.
2. The number of new illegal wildlife products observed by TRAFFIC online fell dramatically, as did the total number of such advertisements: In January 2012, TRAFFIC discovered almost 30,000 advertisements for five illegal wildlife products on 15 websites then surveyed. This rose to more than 50,000 in the next two months but dropped again in April 2012 to around 30,000 after TRAFFIC contacted and shared the monitoring results with website managers, several of whom immediately deleted the identified advertisements.
Number of monthly new wildlife products advertisements (January 2012-September 2014)
Number of total illegal wildlife product advertisements in monitored Chinese-language websites (January 2012-September 2014)
3. Download Moving targets: Tracking online sales of illegal wildlife products in China (PDF, 1 MB).
4. TRAFFIC was founded in 1976 and is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants.
5. This project is implemented in co-operation with GIZ, on behalf of and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
6. Other donors included WWF-UK

Illegal wildlife trade undermines security across nations

By PrairieDogPress

Mar 04, 2014

In the lead-up to Monday’s first-ever World Wildlife Day sanctioned by the United Nations, President Barack Obama laid out a three-pronged plan in mid-February to fight poaching, illegal trade of ivory and other animal parts; not only to stop needless slaughter of imperiled wildlife, but to stem corruption.

Excerpt from Obama’s statement from the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking letter said:

“Like other forms of illicit trade, wildlife trafficking undermines security across nations. Well-armed, well-equipped, and well-organized networks of criminals and corrupt officials exploit porous borders and weak institutions to profit from trading in poached wildlife. Record high demand for wildlife products, coupled with inadequate preventative measures and weak institutions has resulted in an explosion of illicit trade in wildlife in recent years.”

In addition, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell and Attorney General Eric Holder, worked together and penned an op-ed published in National Geographic March 3, to coincide with the first World Wildlife Day.

They warned of threats by organized criminal rings that show no mercy toward animal or human life, since park rangers have been murdered by the dozens trying to protect majestic wildlife, like rhinos and  elephants, from being killed and butchered.

A vast underground network of sophisticated “nefarious criminal elements” continues to grow their million-dollar business, which threatens national economies, the integrity of park, port and court officials, while whole communities fear for their lives.

Furthermore, iconic wildlife—particularly elephants, being killed at an estimated rate of sometimes 95 per day—face extinction in the evolutionary blink of an eye.

Time is urgent, wrote Kerry, Jewell and Holder:

“We must act now. Last month, the President announced his National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking. Our three co-chairing agencies—the Departments of State, Justice, and Interior—are leading the President’s whole-of-government fight against wildlife trafficking by pursuing a three-pronged strategy: strengthening domestic and global enforcement; reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife at home and abroad; and strengthening partnerships internationally and domestically with local communities, NGOs, private industry, and others to combat wildlife poaching and illegal trade.”

Meanwhile, the US, Hong Kong, Kenya, Gabon, Chad, France and China are among nations that have embarked on an ivory-destruction campaign that has resulted in tons of illegal ivory being ground to dust, burned or otherwise eliminated from the possibility of theft.

In related news, the US has the only animal forensic lab in the world located in Ashland, Ore., which is capable of using high-tech crime scene investigation methods to track down wildlife killers.

The US Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory utilizes a crack team of scientists who use investigative measures similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including DNA-gathering and fingerprint recovery.

“In a wildlife crime laboratory your evidence is often a carcass,” said Ken Goddard, the lab‘s director in a previous National Geographic interview. “We get pieces and parts—hides, furs, shoes, purses, ivory carvings and a lot of caviar. When you start getting into the small pieces; strips of leather for watch band, chunks of meat, carvings of ivory, you’ve lost all those species-defining characteristics that made that evidence obviously from an elephant or a bear, for example.”

The lab recently destroyed its cache of ivory tusks held in evidence.

The US and China are huge markets for ivory products, but there are seemingly limitless world marketplaces imbued with things made of animal fur, skin, feathers and entrails that could be from endangered wildlife.

So, everyone is encouraged to do their part and refrain from buying ivory jewelry or trinkets, tiger rugs, shark fin soup, medicinal products made from bear bile or anything else suspicious.

Only mankind can help stop this disgrace of humanity.