Sunday, March 21, 2010

Internet Threatens Endangered Species

The rapid exchange of ideas and information on the Internet has become an important tool in communicating the threats to nature by modern society.  Now we are faced with a harmful side-effect.  Yahoo News
reports the following from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES meeting in Qatar.
The Internet has emerged as one of the greatest threats to rare species, fueling the illegal wildlife trade and making it easier to buy everything from live baby lions to wine made from tiger bones, conservationists said Sunday.
The Web's impact was made clear at the meeting of the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or 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 the Internet trade.
A proposal from the United States and Sweden to regulate the trade in red and pink coral — which is crafted into expensive jewelry and sold extensively on the Web — was defeated. Delegates voted the idea down mostly over concerns the increased regulations might impact poor fishing communities.
The newt is a textbook example of what can happen to one species through trade on the web. According to a study by the WWF, the black and brown salamander with white spots is coveted in the pet trade. Number only around 1,000, about 200 annually are being traded over the years, mostly through a web site that was operated out Ukraine.
"The Internet itself isn't the threat, but it's another way to market the product," said Ernie Cooper, who spearhead the investigation into the newt for TRAFFIC Canada. "The Kaiser's spotted newt, for example, is expensive and most people are not willing to pay $300 for a salamander. But through the power of the Internet, tapping into global market, you can find buyers."
The whole story is at Yahoo News.

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