With rhino poaching being such a serious problem in South Africa, it is understandable that the majority of our attention will be focused on that. However, it is important to be aware of the illegal wildlife trade going on in the rest of the world.
Trade of rare animals and their body parts is going on through popular websites including Quikr, Olx, eBay, Amazon and Youtube, the Indian government said on Monday.
India’s Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said online smuggling of rare animals and their parts are being monitored by the state and central governments as part of combating cyber crime.
“Several websites are seen advertising sale of rare animals and their parts,” Dave said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
He furnished a list of 106 such websites collated by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB). The 106 websites include prominent names like quikr.com, olx.in, alibaba.com, eBay.com, youtube.com, amazon.com, shopping.rediff.com, petsmart.com and snapdeal.com.
Dave said several steps have been taken to prevent such illegal activities which include utilising services of cyber crime specialists on contractual basis to carry out regular cyber patrolling to detect posts and offers on such portals.
He said if any such offer is detected, details are retrieved of the suspect and information is passed on to relevant enforcement agencies for legal action.
A meeting of representatives from online trade portals was convened in May this year to discuss issues pertaining to online wildlife trade, sensitise them about it and discuss modalities to assist WCCB in case of such detections.
Dave said during training and sensitisation programmes conducted by WCCB, the issue of illegal online wildlife trade is being highlighted so that officials involved in the enforcement are abreast of such trends.
A wildlife body had recently alleged that a prominent website was selling wildlife specimens, including sea horses and alligator heads, protected under the country’s laws.
Wildlife SOS had claimed the website was offering an array of wildlife trophies, including alligator heads, preserved snakes, butterflies, starfish, rare beetles and seahorses, besides hunting manuals and devices.
Online portal eBay has denied these claims, saying the company has zero tolerance for wrongdoing and has strict policies in place to stop the sale of products from endangered animals on the site.
However, if any listing violation is found on the site, then not only is the listing removed, but the seller may also be subject to a range of other actions, including restrictions of their buying and selling privileges and suspension of their account.
“eBay has over 20 years of experience of running a large global marketplace with 100s of millions of listings and is recognized as a world leader by industry peers and leading Animal and Wildlife Welfare bodies in fighting the online trade of endangered animal products,” the company said.
The first step towards combatting illegal wildlife trade, is to become aware of the problem and to understand it. Only then will we know what the best steps to be taken, are.