The Shenzhen-based Internet giant Tencent has joined forces with the world’s leading e-commerce, technology and social media companies in a global effort to stop wildlife traffickers from trading endangered species, a wildlife protection organization said in the U.S. city of San Francisco.
The first-ever Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online said it is bringing together companies worldwide in partnership with wildlife experts at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in a bid to reduce wildlife trafficking online by 80 percent by 2020.
The Coalition said 21 tech firms from Asia, North America, Europe and Africa will join forces with Google and WWF to render online platforms and apps inoperable for wildlife traffickers trading endangered species.
The companies pledged to develop and implement policies and solutions to help end wildlife trafficking online, it said.
The founding members of the coalition also include China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba and search engine company Baidu.
Other founding members of the coalition are top U.S. tech giants, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Ebay.
“Bringing these industry giants together is the best shot at systematically closing the open web to wildlife traffickers,” said Crawford Allan, senior director of wildlife crime & TRAFFIC at WWF, adding that these firms are uniting to ensure an Internet where traffickers have nowhere left to turn.
The annual value of wildlife crime globally is US$20 billion, according to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
More than 20,000 African elephants are illegally killed each year for their tusks, said the coalition.