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Tech companies are taking a stand against wildlife trafficking

Wildlife trafficking is a pervasive crime that endangers animals and threatens wildlife populations. The internet has made it even easier for traffickers to illegally trade animals and products like ivory and rhino horn online. Now, 21 leading tech companies are working together to prevent animal trading on their sites and platforms.

 

Recently, the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online was launched by TRAFFIC, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and includes companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Instagram, and Alibaba. The coalition will “work together to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020.”

 

The black market for wildlife products is more expansive and accessible than ever thanks to the anonymity the internet can provide. We might think of crimes like ivory trade as something from a bygone era, but new technology creates new avenues for criminal activity to emerge.

 

The current challenge in putting an end to illegal trafficking isn’t that companies don’t care; when such activity is spotted, companies often do take action — but the criminals just move to another platform. As a coalition, companies could stand together to better identify and stop traffickers. Law enforcement can’t effectively police every platform or website that might be utilized for trafficking. Nor can each platform or website monitor for trafficking effectively on their own. “If you have one weak link in the chain, that’s where all of the illegal trade will gravitate towards,” said Crawford Allan, the senior director of wildlife crime at the WWF and TRAFFIC, to National Geographic. “It’s like the whack-a-mole effect.”

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