Internet is “greatest threat” to rare species

The world wide wibble is the greatest threats to rare species, according to conservationists.

Apparently the web is fuelling the illegal wildlife trade and making it easier to buy everything from live baby lions to wine made from tiger bones.

A meeting of the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES heard how the Internet sales have decimated populations Kaiser’s Spotted Newt which is hardly spotted anywhere these days.

However, a move by the United States and Sweden to regulate the trade in red and pink coral, which is crafted into expensive jewellery and sold extensively on the Web, was not supported because it would harm poor communities of human fishermen.

Several surveys of illegal trade on the Web and a three-month survey in 2008 found more than 7,000 species worth $3.8 million sold on auction sites, classified ads and chat rooms.

Most of the buyers were in the United States but also Europe, China, Russia and Australia.

Illegal African ivory is a big seller but also found exotic birds along with rare products such as tiger-bone wine and pelts from protected species like polar bears and leopards.

However scapegoating the WWW is pointless, according to John Sellar, CITES’ chief law enforcement officer.

He said that many species that appear illegal may in fact may be legal. The really big traders were reluctant to use the internet, since payments can be traced and they can be caught.