New Delhi, Sep 21: With India’s internet user population reaching nearly 500 million, illegal online trade has become a significant threat to wildlife conservation today.
Large numbers of wildlife species and their parts and derivatives have been found on sale online, among them skins and body parts of tiger, leopard and snow leopard; elephant ivory; rhino horn; pangolin scales; marine species; birds, reptiles. Their timely detection and subsequent enforcement action are fast becoming conservation priorities.
Shutting down global online illegal wildlife trade requires an integrated, international solution. In this regard, A stakeholders meeting organised by TRAFFIC and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), Government of India in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy, New Delhi and WWF-India at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC), New Delhi.
The meeting enabled creation of a common platform for wildlife law enforcement agencies, internet-based companies, policy makers and market leaders to highlight and discuss problems and solutions for curbing online wildlife crime and build and strengthen mutual co-operation and collaboration.
What the experts say
Participants recommended extending current Information and Technology legislation to include wildlife crime, raising consumer awareness to influence buying choices, capacity building for law enforcement officials and creating a common forum that will bring all stakeholders on one platform to help find and implement ways to curb online illegal wildlife trade.
“Everything from turtles and tortoises to Red Sand Boa, monitor lizard, Red Sanders, body parts of elephants, tigers, leopards etc. are being traded on various websites and mobile applications. Therefore, it becomes imperative to involve internet companies and find solutions with them to curb online illegal wildlife trade,” said Tilotama Varma, IPS, Addl Director, WCCB.
Global efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade
Over the last few years the international community has paid increasing attention to illegal wildlife trade in recognition of the significant socio-economic, environmental and security consequences stemming from it, according to CITES.
A diverse range of high-level events and initiatives acknowledging the threats posed by illegal wildlife trade and calling for enhanced support to combat these crimes have taken place at global, regional and national levels.