eBay, Etsy, Yahoo Join in Fight Against Illegal Wildlife Trade

Herd of Elephants, image: Benh LIEU SONG.

By Staff | News
Posted Aug 13, 2016

Finally, the world’s elephants and other endangered species are getting some much needed support, albeit from unlikely places. Yesterday marked World Elephant Day and seven major social media and e-commerce companies joined forces to adopt standards set jointly by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to try to put a stop poaching and illegal wildlife trading via their networks.

By stepping forward, commitments from eBay, Etsy, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo means it will no longer be easy to buy, sell or trade in illicit products (like elephant tusks) or live animals from the endangered species list. The companies agreed to adoptĀ a standardized policy, which lays out exactly the kinds of endangered species and products that consumers and companies should be on the lookout for, such as: rhino horns; elephant tusks; and shark fins plus other lesser known products. While magnifeco readers know that those products are both harmful and illegal, the argument is that not all consumers are aware of exactly what might be classified as an illegally (or unethically and harmfully) sourced good.

It’s the first time that conservation organizations have partnered with tech companies and the timing couldn’t come sooner. In a three-year period alone, about 100,000 elephants were poached for their ivory. The crisis is mirrored for other species as well: from 2007 to 2014, rhino poaching increased by an astounding 9,300 percent in South Africa alone; and in the past century, the world’s tiger populations have dropped 97 percent, according to the release.

Goods that come from these animals can easily wind up on e-commerce sites like eBay, for example, which is why it was crucial that a standardized rulebook of sorts be put in place, TRAFFIC senior director Crawford Allan, told CBS News.

Tania McCrea-Steele, head of the global wildlife cybercrime project at the IFAW also told CBS News, “What the announcement does is it makes customers aware that this kind of trade is illegal — that this treatment of wildlife is wrong. It’s also helpful for ‘accidental traders’ out there, who might not be aware of exactly where these goods originate from.” She went on the stress that this policy is an essential tool for consumers and companies alike, by urging “companies to be on the lookout for illegal products” and “preventing customers from participating in illegal trade.” At the end of the day, she said this kind of framework — one that hadn’t been in existence before across web companies — leaves “no room for confusion.”

Notably absent from the agreement are Amazon and Facebook.

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