Internet is biggest threat to endangered species, say conservationists

• Internet trade ‘one of the biggest challenges facing Cites’
• Coral regulation defeated but Kaiser’s spotted newt ban voted

The internet has emerged as one of the greatest threats to rare species, fuelling the illegal wildlife trade and making it easier to buy everything from live lion cubs to wine made from tiger bones, conservationists said Sunday. The internet’s impact was made clear at the meeting of the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). Delegates voted overwhelmingly Sunday to ban the trade of the Kaiser’s spotted newt, which the World Wildlife Fund says has been devastated by internet trade. Trade on the internet poses one of the biggest challenges facing Cites, said Paul Todd, a campaign manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The Ifaw has carried out several surveys of illegal trade on the internet and found that thousands of species are sold on auction sites, classified ads and chatrooms, mostly in the US but also Europe, China, Russia and Australia. Most of the illegal trade is in African ivory but the group has also found exotic birds along with rare products such as tiger-bone wine and pelts from protected species like polar bears and leopards. A separate 2009 survey by the group Campaign Against Cruelty to Animals targeted the internet trade in Ecuador, finding offers to sell live capuchin monkeys, lion cubs and ocelots.


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