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Illegal Wildlife Trade Is Flourishing Online: Report

Nov 25, 2014 01:11 PM EST

A new report from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has revealed some absolutely shocking statistics about the illegal trade of live and endangered animals on the web, revealing just how bad things have gotten with this difficult-to-track industry.

Nature World News recently reported how the illegal trade of live animals, especially the trade of tigers, is booming, in part because of a demand stimulated by tiger farming.

However, while that industry can be traced back to elite circles in China and India alone, there also appears to be a growing number of international buyers and sellers strictly online.

The IFAW report, aptly titled "Wanted - Dead Or Alive," reveals that a stunning 33,006 live wild animals were being made available for purchase on 280 sites in 16 different countries over a mere six weeks.

Even more shocking, nearly a third of those animals were considered endangered or critically so, protected under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) international convention.

Of course, it's important to understand that the rarer the animal, the more it is worth, and the more likely it will be that there is a market for it. The endangered animal adverts, totaling about 9,500, were found to be worth at least $11 million in potential profit.

Perhaps most stunning of all is that the number of people advertising for live animals actually outnumbered the number of offers to sell endangered animal parts (tiger pelts, ivory, etc.) - the 33,006 live offers totaled a whopping 54 percent of all the adverts the IFAW found.

"The shocking scale of online wildlife trade shows that the internet poses a real threat to wildlife at a time when poaching levels are reaching unprecedented levels," Tania McCrea-Steele, the Campaigns and Enforcement Manager for IFAW in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

She added that many consumers may simply be unaware that they are supporting an illegal industry.

"Online marketplaces can provide an opportunity to improve consumer awareness," McCrea-Steele said, while " governments must ensure they have robust laws in place that specifically tackle the unique challenges of wildlife cybercrime."

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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