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Study highlights need for monitoring of online wildlife trade

Update: July, 13/2018 - 09:00
Illegal online trade of wildlife is occurring on websites that end with “.vn” and “.com” domain names, including social media websites. — Photo baotintuc.vn
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s illegal online trade of wildlife is occurring on websites that end with “.vn” and “.com” domain names, including social media websites, according to a study released recently by TRAFFIC.

The study “Việt Nam Online: A Rapid Assessment of E-commerce Wildlife Trade in 2017” monitored 13 websites ending in “.vn” by using keyword searches for products ranging from elephants, leopards, pangolins, rhinos, Saiga Antelopes, marine turtles and tigers.

Of the websites surveyed, 30 per cent had advertisements for wildlife species’ parts.

From March to October in 2017, 14 of the advertisements offered a total of 1,072 selected wildlife products, but 90 per cent of them were listed in just one advertisement.

All but six of the advertised products were made from elephant ivory, with the remainder coming from tigers.

This was in contrast to previous surveys that included “.com” domain names (including social media websites) that discovered many more advertisements for wildlife products.

A 2017 TRAFFIC survey found a total of 1,095 tiger products offered for sale in 187 advertisements from 85 unique sellers on four e-commerce websites and two social media websites over a period of 25 days.

The majority of the advertisements (95 per cent) were found on a single social media site.

The same site also accounted for 89 per cent of the individual items, excluding items measured by weight.

Online trade in Việt Nam is regulated by the Law on Electronic Transactions and a decree on e-commerce which prohibit the online trade of certain goods, including wildlife where applicable.

People who break the law can be punished with the same severity as those that sell illegal wildlife products in a physical marketplace.

However, collecting evidence and prosecuting online crimes can be difficult.

“Online marketplaces have become attractive to traffickers because they offer anonymity and allow people to connect over large distances more easily than ever before,” said Rosa A. Indenbaum, a TRAFFIC senior programme officer based in Việt Nam, and author of the report.

“Defeating online trade will require diligence, both from enforcement officers and website companies. This study indicates that .com sites, including social media, are where monitoring and enforcement efforts should be concentrated,” she added.

The report recommends that the Vietnamese government ensure effective law enforcement across online channels.

The government has also been encouraged to form a specialised team to focus on online monitoring of wildlife trade.

The TRAFFIC study urges law enforcement personnel and members of the public to report online wildlife crime through the hotline 18001522.

The study was funded by the UK Government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

TRAFFIC is at the forefront of addressing illegal wildlife trade online. This year, the organisation helped convene the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online with some of the world’s biggest internet companies.

In Việt Nam, TRAFFIC supports the Việt Nam E-commerce Association in its efforts to disrupt illegal online trade through workshops and training events. — VNS

 

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