Species across the globe are facing pressures at the greatest level than ever before. Thousands of species are at risk of extinction from causes spanning global warming, deforestation, human encroachment and countless others. Another serious contributor to species decline is illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts.
This was discussed at great length at the recent meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES. 175 nations belong to this organization, which recently met to discuss the future of numerous species and whether trade in particular species will be regulated or banned. A major outcome of the meeting was the impact the internet is having on species worldwide.
According to CITES, the internet is contributing greatly to illegal wildlife trade due to making it more widespread and easier to accomplish. A plethora of species have been subject to internet trading, including red and pink coral, Kaiser’s spotted newt, tiger bones and products, ivory and living species from lions to monkeys.
Paul Todd, who works for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, stated: “The Internet is becoming the dominant factor overall in the global trade in protected species. There will come a time when country to country trade of large shipments between big buyers and big sellers in different countries is a thing of the past.”
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has performed numerous examinations of online trade of species worldwide. They concluded that the most popular location for such trade is in the United States, however, it is also popular in China, Russia, Australia and Europe. Listings for particular species, products and parts are found in classified ads, auction sites and even chat rooms.
The kind of products available that have been discovered include tiger-bone wine, pelts from an array of species such as polar bears and leopards, and live lion cubs, ocelots and capuchin monkeys. Ivory is one of the largest sellers worldwide.