Rare Species Getting Caught in the Web

Conservation organizations are warning that the Internet is driving unprecedented levels of illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife parts—$7.8 to $10 billion annually, according to the research group, Global Financial Integrity. Cyberspace is seen by traffickers to be a high-profit, low risk medium within which to ply their illicit trade. They are taking cues from other nefarious actors who have found a comfortable home within the relative safety and anonymity of the web: According to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, wildlife criminals are increasingly taking advantage of sophisticated web tools more commonly associated with serious financial criminals, drug traffickers, and child pornographers. For many species, online sales are now the principal threat to their survival. Crawford Allan of the wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, told the UK’s The Guardian that “‘Rare jewels of the forest can now be caught, boxed and shipped almost overnight just like any other express commodity.’”

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