Nigeria has joined several other countries around the globe to announce commitment to stamp out illegal online wildlife trade.
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), coordinator of the exercise, says the decision was reached at a high level meeting held during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) held in Johannesburg, South Africa
With over 183 countries in attendance, IFAW says that illegal online wildlife trade is a serious threat to endangered species.
Citing statistics from its research work titled “Wanted: Dead or Alive – Exposing Online Wildlife Trade”, IFAW says that more than 30,000 endangered and protected live wildlife and their parts and products, the value of which was in excess of $10-million, available for sale over a six week period across 16 countries.
“The decision calls on INTERPOL to bring together the enforcement community in order to effectively police online wildlife crime”, noting that countries involved will now have the opportunity to convene and review their legislation by engaging in the workshop.
IFAW says that Nigeria was among countries that spoke in favour of the decision including Syria, Guinea, Israel, India, Malaysia, Senegal, Liberia, Costa Rica, the Maldives, South Africa and the European Union.
The document for action was tabled by a representative of Kenya who said the country was concerned by the threat that wildlife cyber-crime poses to the survival of endangered wildlife. “Enforcement operations and prosecutions show that criminals who seek to profit from the illegal trade in endangered wildlife are now utilizing the internet to enable their criminal activities,” the Kenyan representative said.
“It is essential that we have robust laws specifically addressing the unique threat posed by online wildlife crime while also increasing enforcement knowledge and intelligence on this issue. In addition, it is necessary to engage e-commerce platforms who can assist law enforcers but also improve consumer awareness”, he adds.
Tania McCrea-Steele, Global Wildlife Cyber-crime Project Lead, IFAW, says that the Secretariat’s intention to engage with online marketplaces and social media platforms in order to crack down on wildlife cyber-criminals has been welcomed by IFAW
“This decision will lead to a much more cohesive counter offensive against wildlife cyber-criminals, in that it brings together enforcers, online market places and social media platforms from across the globe in a common mission to save wildlife.”