Internet threatens endangered species

Conservationists say the internet
has emerged as one of the biggest threats to endangered species.

Campaigners say it is easier than
ever before to buy and sell anything from live baby lions to polar bear pelts
on online auction sites and chatrooms.

The findings were presented at the
175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which is
meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Several proposals to give
endangered species more protection were defeated.

“The internet is becoming the
dominant factor overall in the global trade in protected species,” said
Paul Todd of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

He said thousands of endangered
species are regularly traded on the internet, as buyers and sellers take
advantage of the anonymity – and vast global market – the world wide web can
offer.

Those trying to police illegal
sales say the size of problem is almost impossible to estimate. They say the US
is the biggest market, but that Europe, China, Russia and Australia also play a
large part.

 Delegates voted to ban all international trade
in a rare type of Iranian salamander, the Kaiser’s Spotted Newt, which the
World Wildlife Fund says, has been devastated by the internet trade.

However, more high-profile attempts
to ban trade in polar bears, bluefin tuna and rare corals have all failed,
leaving environmental activists dismayed.

A proposal from the US and Sweden
to regulate the trade in red and pink coral – which is crafted into expensive
jewellery and sold extensively on the web – was defeated.

Delegates voted the idea down
mostly over concerns the increased regulations might impact poor fishing
communities.

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