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 user 2005-08-17 at 10:36:00 am Views: 89
  • #12574

    Web trade threat to rare species

    Ifaw says one site offered two-week-old tiger cubs for $1,500
    The illegal trade in wild animal products over the internet is driving
    the world’s most endangered species to extinction, wildlife campaigners

    An International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) probe found 9,000 live
    animals or products for sale in one week on trading sites like eBay.

    Ifaw claims many traders are taking advantage of the internet’s anonymity.

    The government says it takes wildlife crime seriously, but Ifaw urged it to act urgently.

    During a three month investigation, Ifaw found some of the world’s most
    endangered species for sale online – almost all being traded illegally.

    Animal parts

    These included a live gorilla for sale in London and a Siberian tiger and four baby chimps on US websites.

    Animal body parts included hawksbill turtle shells, shahtoosh shawls
    from the Tibetan antelope and taxidermy specimens of lions, and
    peregrine falcons – protected by British law.

    Ivory items and traditional Asian remedies containing parts of endangered tigers and rhinos were common place.
    The result is a cyber black market where the future of the world’s rarest animals is being traded away.
    Phyllis Campbell-McRae
    Director IFAW UK

    The report, Caught in the Web: Wildlife Trade on the Internet, said
    many animals were being targeted by poachers to meet the demands of
    wealthy consumers.

    Ifaw UK director Phyllis Campbell-McRae said unscrupulous traders and
    sophisticated criminal gangs took advantage of the anonymity afforded
    by the internet.

    “The result is a cyber black market where the future of the world’s rarest animals is being traded away.

    “This situation must be tackled immediately by governments and website owners.”

    ‘Laws exist’

    Of the 9,000 animals and animal parts found for sale by the probe in
    its first week alone, 70% were from species protected by international

    Ifaw wants the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to ensure that bans are enforced.

    A stuffed peregrine falcon – protected under British law – pic provided by IFAW
    IFAW is warning the public not to purchase any endangered species

    Professor William Dutton, director of the Oxford Internet Institute,
    said: “Laws exist to stop the unlawful use of any communication medium,
    but governments and agencies need to communicate in order to address
    activities that span the globe.”

    Endangered animals are protected under international law by the
    Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), but
    there are not enough resources to enforce it, the report said.

    British native wildlife law prohibits the trade all wild birds and mammals found in the UK.

    But researchers found there was a lack of understanding of the
    legislation. They wants Defra to provide user-friendly information on
    its own website.

    The report urged the department to set up a hotline for easy reporting of suspicious trade.

    Unlimited fines

    Defra welcomed the report. Biodiversity minister Jim Knight said: “The
    National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit is working closely with
    internet service providers to raise awareness of wildlife controls and
    to enhance intelligence-gathering on wildlife crime.

    “Last month, we introduced tough new penalties for people convicted of
    trading in endangered species, meaning they now face up to five years
    in prison or an unlimited fine.”

    He said the penalties give police stronger powers of arrest, entry, search and seizure.
    Spider monkey in baby clothes – pic provided by IFAW
    Ifaw says this spider monkey was for sale

    The government was also consulting on plans to use powers under EC regulations to cut wildlife crime at home and abroad.

    Website owners are being urged to let users report their suspicions and
    work more closely with government and enforcement agencies.

    A spokesman for eBay said its animals policy goes beyond the law in
    prohibiting the sale of native and endangered species and it was
    working closely with the Ifaw to ensure the site remained free from
    illegal items.

    “If we are made aware of any listing that breaks this policy, we will
    end the listing and may, where appropriate, forward it to the relevant
    law enforcement agency for action.

    “We strongly encourage users to report illegal items to customer support.”