CITES meeting to discuss wildlife e-trade and cyber-crime

For use of the media only;
not an official document.


CITES meeting to discuss wildlife e-trade and cyber-crime

Ottawa/Geneva, 20 February 2009 – Following allegations that criminals are using web-based auction sites to sell illegally obtained wildlife products such as ivory and caviar, the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Environment Canada, are organizing a workshop from 24 to 26 February in the Westin Bayshore Hotel, Vancouver.

In addition to examining the way in which wildlife and wildlife products are advertised via the Internet, the workshop will consider the wildlife-related cyber-crimes that take place via email and the use of specialized ‘chat rooms’ where collectors may arrange sales of protected species. These subjects are receiving considerable attention in the media.

The Secretary-General of CITES, Mr Willem Wijnstekers, said, “There are undoubtedly instances where websites and communication services are being exploited by wildlife criminals. On the other hand, we are very conscious that legal and sustainable wildlife trade takes place too. It is imperative, therefore, that CITES finds ways to better monitor wildlife e-commerce, whilst combating illicit sales of wild animals or plants illegally obtained".

Over 60 experts from four continents will participate in the workshop. Participants include national wildlife authorities from 20 countries, Customs and police officers, non-governmental organizations, and a major Internet auction site company.

“The Government of Canada is committed to protecting endangered species within its borders and internationally,” said Canadian Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice. “Through the recent hiring of 50 per cent more on-the-ground Enforcement Officers we will do our part to monitor e-commerce and protect wild animals and plants against illegal trade,” said Prentice.

The governments of France and the United Kingdom, and the European Commission kindly provided the financial support for the workshop taking place this week.

Note to journalists: A background document, prepared by the CITES Secretariat to aid discussions at the workshop, can be viewed at the following URL:

Representatives of the CITES Secretariat and Environment Canada will be available to meet with the media at the Westin Bayshore Hotel at 5pm on Thursday 26 February, at the conclusion of the workshop.

For more information, please contact Media Relations, Environment Canada +011 +1 (819) 934-8008 or Juan-Carlos Vasquez, CITES media officer, at +41-22-917-8156 or [email protected]


To read previous press releases, go to Archives.