Online portals, including public websites, social media and e-commerce platforms now serve as easy channels for illegal wildlife trade. Meanwhile, traders are taking advantage of well-developed supply chains, involving courier and logistics companies, to unwittingly deliver wildlife products to buyers.
As policy changes and law enforcement have constricted open market availability in physical locations, buyers and sellers have increasingly moved online. As wildlife cybercrime rapidly develops, institutional capacity, legislation and law enforcement are struggling to keep up.
To increase awareness and detection of IWT-related cybercrimes, WWF works with partners to go beyond the removal of advertisements selling wildlife and:
- Investigate the financial transactions and adaptation tactics used by prolific high volume listers and traders of wildlife
- Leverage partnerships to develop law enforcement capacity building throughout the region and nurture relationships and collaboration between different jurisdictions
- Develop a citizen science programme to collate information on possible IWT listings on social media platforms, online markets and biodiversity databases
- Use artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to continuously monitor for targeted wildlife and IWT products online and deploy digital deterrents to dissuade potential buyers
- Create an IWT Toolkit of guidelines, tools and best practices amongst regional partners to describe and implement effective counter cyber IWT operation