the scourge of e-commerce websites

The Cites summit, which ends on November 25, must decide in particular on the case of electronic commerce that serves as an engine for the sale of endangered animals.

Opening of the Cites Summit on November 14, 2022 in Panama ©BelgaImage

🇧🇷Biggest market in the world“Open 24/7, the internet has become a favorite venue for unlimited global wildlife trafficking, with experts calling for greater oversight of online trading platforms. the International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN) and non-governmental organizations at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has been taking place in Panama since November 14 and should end on Friday.

The need for more binding legislation

By the end of this meeting, crucial for the protection of biodiversity, trade in several additional species is expected to be banned or severely restricted. According to Interpol, wildlife trafficking is increasing by 5-7% a year. But you have to”go beyond“out of embarrassment”platforms to remove your content” is at “imposing high penalties“, defends Lionel Hachemin, project director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), accompanied by AFP. Between 2016 and 2021, he followed the classifieds of illegal animal species in France, published on consumer e-commerce sites , but also through private groups on social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp or Signal.The result: more than 1,800 ads were recorded, offering spotted cats, Hermann tortoises or even colored macaws for sale.

The IFAW created, together with the WWF and Traffic, the Coalition Against Online Wildlife Trafficking, which aims to help e-commerce companies”develop a policy that protects its users and commercial activities, while making it difficult to traffic wild animalsTo this end, the NGO helped the French classifieds website Leboncoin to strengthen its regulations by banning the sale of ivory objects and gray parrots from Gabon.

France and Belgium, hubs

Gabonese gray parrots, bull frogs, boa constrictors, but also ivory, pangolin scales and game meat: every year, tens of thousands of kilos of wild species enter and leave France illegally, fueling a global traffic estimated by Interpol at several billions of dollars a year. France, with its 12 overseas territories present in five “access points” of biodiversity, is a pivotal point in the trafficking of wild animals. Considered “third most profitable transnational organized crime activity in the world“, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Based Platform on Biodiversity (IPBES), this trafficking contributes to the disappearance of wild species. Only in 2021, “36 tons of illegal wildlife products were seized at Terminal 2 at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport“, where flights from Africa arrive, according to the IUCN, including about ten tons of game meat (pangolin, primates, bats, agoutis, etc.).

But France is also a country”source“. The explosion in poaching of glass eel, eel fry, banned from export outside the EU since 2009, is a good example. Caught on the Atlantic coast, this endangered migratory fish is then exported to Asia , mainly China and Thailand.France The European Goldfinch, appreciated for its melodious song and whose French population has decreased by 50% in twenty years, is also the object of a trade that takes it both to the Maghreb and to Belgium.

Read: Belgium is a major player in the illegal trade in protected species

The fight against wildlife trafficking is being stepped up in France, particularly with the “law of 30 November 2021 aimed at combating animal abuse” which prohibits the sending of vertebrate animals by mail and prohibits the online sale of animals by non-professionals. However, this fight faces two major obstacles: on the one hand, the lack of means attributed to fighting organizations and, on the other, the incomplete training of magistrates”.Magistrates must have sufficient means to detect cross-border trafficking, which is often very powerful, and must be able to rely on specialized assistants who can provide their expertise on the money seized“, recommends SĂ©bastien Mabile, lawyer and vice-president of the French committee of the IUCN.

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