CITES Partner Spotlight: INTERPOL’s Project WEB combats online wildlife crime

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“As the CITIES conference comes to the end of its first week, I thought I would just add the video in along with this post. Born Free’s CEO Will Travis, talks about some of the issues raised. Although I can’t believe the bid to halt the polar bear trade, was just swept under the table…WTF… Russia, Canada & the US…really have left the polar bears out in the cold…literally! I’m disgusted with their decision; same goes for the poor manatee!! I can’t wait to see what rubbish they come up with next week, for protecting species round the world; who are just about hanging on with their teeth!! Do the delegates from their respective country, actually know the danger some species are in?? I have my doubts given the first weeks bungles, honestly some of them are about as much use as a chocolate fire guard. Take about 30 of us animal advocates from face book, stick us round a table; & I’m sure we could come up with plans to help those in need!!”

Today saw the launch of the first ever internationally coordinated enforcement investigation into the online ivory trade.

Following the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s (IFAW’s) recommendation and with our support INTERPOL undertook Project WEB, an investigation into the online ivory trade within the EU.

Summing up week one at the CITES meeting in Bangkok

Published on 8 Mar 2013

Will Travers, CEO of Born Free, sums up week one at CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting, covering secret ballots, elephants, rhino, polar bears, manatees and turtles.

The report revealed that there were hundreds of ivory items conservatively valued at approximately EUR 1,450,000 for sale during a two-week period on Internet auction sites in nine European countries.

During this survey of sites by enforcers, more than 660 advertisements for ivory on 61 different auction sites were analysed and as a result of the surveillance, six national and three international investigations were launched in cases where ivory was described as new or where ivory was being traded from abroad.

Project WEB by the numbers:

Estimated €1.45 million worth of ivory

Found in 9 Countries

Across 61 auction websites

In 660 online advertisements

Containing 100s of items made from ivory

Over a 2 week period

Leading to 6 national investigations

And 3 international investigations

This week sees the 16th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

The 177 countries that are Party to CITES have already agreed, thanks in part to IFAW’s lobbying efforts, to investigate and prosecute wildlife criminals trading online as well as evaluate or develop their domestic measures to ensure they are sufficient to fight online wildlife crime.

While at least one country has strengthened their legislation to specifically target online wildlife crime and a small number of countries have started to develop strategies for tackling illegal wildlife sales on the internet, many more countries need to deliver on their promise and stamp out online wildlife crime.

Since 2004 IFAW has been highlighting the growing global threat posed by online wildlife crime to endangered wildlife.  A series of IFAW investigations have repeatedly shown that there are thousands of wild animals and wildlife ‘products’, such as ivory, available for sale on the internet all over the world.

Stop The Ivory trade

IFAW has found live primates, big cats, birds and reptiles advertised online while animal parts from rhino’s, elephants, sharks, Tibetan antelopes and sturgeon have also been available to purchase on the internet.

In January 2012, IFAW’s online monitoring found 17,847 ivory products listed on 13 Chinese websites, even though none of these products had the necessary Government approval.

Meanwhile, a four-week investigation in the United Arab Emirates and some neighbouring Arab countries in the same year found 796 adverts featuring live wildlife over 11 websites. None of the adverts had any documentary proof to demonstrate that the sales complied with the law.

In Europe an IFAW investigation in 2011 found a thriving trade in ivory items. The investigation tracked 43 sites in the UK, France, Portugal, Spain and Germany for a two-week period and found 669 advertisements for ivory.

The statistics are disturbing but can be hard to comprehend so let me give you one example that shows the horrors of this illegal trade.

In 2010 a British couple admitted 12 counts of illegally exporting, three of illegally importing, seven of illegally selling and two of illegally possessing specimens under the Customs and Excise Management Act.

The couple in question had been selling animal body parts from owls, a baboon, macaque monkeys, a python, an African penguin, an African lion cub and a Malaysian flying fox.

These items were kept in a store room full of skulls and other animal body parts which, when I saw the pictures, made me think it as a room of death for wildlife.

Highlighting the problem of this trade is an important first step but IFAW has been going one stage further and engaging website companies, law enforcers and Governments in our campaign to stamp out online wildlife crime.

After our 2008 Killing with Keystrokes investigation, where we found ivory was the number one wildlife product being traded online, we encouraged eBay to ban the sale of ivory on their websites and IFAW was very pleased to see them announce this ban in January 2009.

Meanwhile other websites have since followed suit including Alibaba (www.taobao.com) in China, the world’s largest business-to-business and outsource portal site for traders.

However, while banning the sale of wildlife products on websites does restrict unscrupulous traders’ ability to easily profit from these products, there is clearly a need for enforcers to ramp up their efforts.

We have seen traders time and again attempting to disguise their wildlife products to avoid detection by police, customs or website companies such as eBay.

In addition to working with INTERPOL IFAW is working with enforcement agencies across the world to catch online wildlife criminals by sharing the findings of our online investigations, facilitating international enforcement operations and by bringing together website companies and enforcement agencies in order that they can work in partnership in their fight against illegal wildlife sales on the internet.

–TM

Please sign petition:- Take action to help end the trafficking of wildlife online now, click here. 

News Link:-http://www.ifaw.org/united-kingdom/news/cites-partner-spotlight-interpol%E2%80%99s-project-web-combats-online-wildlife-crime

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New Report Documents Yahoo! Profits From Killing Endangered Whales and Dolphins

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Internet giant urged to ban all sales of whale and dolphin products

Hundreds of whale products for sale on the Japanese website of Internet search engine company Yahoo! show how the California-based company profits from the venture, according to a new report released today that can be found by clicking here.

“Killing for Commerce,” released by the Environmental Investigation Agency, in conjunction with Humane Society International and the Natural Resources Defense Council, details how the website Yahoo! Japan facilitates the sale of meat and other products of endangered whale in Japan. EIA tests have also turned up evidence that products derived of dolphin are sold.

“Yahoo! continues to ignore international outrage over the sale of whale and dolphin products via its Japanese website, even as it continues to profit from the slaughter of whales and dolphins,” said EIA President Allan Thornton.

Although Yahoo! has banned the sale of endangered and protected species from all other Yahoo! sites, EIA, HSI and NRDC are deeply concerned that the company has made no significant effort to persuade its Japanese subsidiary to end the sale of whale and dolphin products.

The report shows how in March, Yahoo! Japan was found offering 249 whale products, including sashimi, bacon and canned whale meat, for sale on its fee-based sales and auction sites. That’s around 100 more listings of individual products than Amazon’s Japanese website was found to be selling when it was exposed earlier this year. In response to pressure from around the world, Amazon swiftly announced a ban on all such sales.

The report also confirms that many of the products are from internationally protected great whale species including fin, sei, minke, sperm and Bryde’s whale – all of whom are protected under the moratorium on commercial whaling established by the International Whaling Commission in 1986 and have the highest level of protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In one example, despite the international trade ban, seven companies on Yahoo! Japan’s website were selling endangered fin whale imported from Iceland.

“Yahoo! should respect international laws rather than offering market access to those who want to profit from flouting these protective agreements,” said Kitty Block, vice president of HSI.

Moreover, whale products sold via the Japanese website have been found harmful to human health. EIA commissioned laboratory tests on 10 products purchased from the website and found that five exceeded Japan’s guidelines for mercury levels in food for human consumption. One product was 16 times the “safe” limit.

“We appeal to Yahoo! to follow Amazon’s lead and stop the sale of all whale and dolphin products,” said Taryn Kiekow, staff attorney for NRDC. “By selling these products, Yahoo! Japan is condoning the slaughter of internationally recognized endangered and protected species. Whale meat is not only unsafe for human consumption; it is a travesty for the biological diversity of our oceans.”

News Link:-http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2012/06/yahoo_whales_dolphins_060612.html

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