Doha, 16 March 2010 – Internet and new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are impacting on the conservation of wild fauna and flora in many significant ways, and countries have been turning their attention to their growing importance. They recognize that they will face difficulties to control wildlife trade under CITES if they lack adequate access to the Internet and other new communication tools.
“It is sometimes tempting to see the Internet as the root of all evil”, says CITES, Chief Enforcement Officer John Sellar. “Whilst it is undoubtedly being exploited by the criminal fraternity, and CITES has to find ways of responding to that, its considerable advantages must not be ignored, especially since they too can be exploited, but by the law enforcement community”, he added.
Using the Internet to combat illegal trade in CITES-listed species is an important topic for the ongoing CITES conference. Countries developing enforcement measures to deal with illegal Internet-based activities may be interested in how the US Fish and Wildlife uses Internet technologies in its intelligence gathering and investigations.
The Internet has important potential in connecting legitimate traders of wildlife to consumers. Perhaps our biggest challenge is to find ways to help those consumers, who are becoming more and more used to ordering and paying on-line, to determine whether what they are being offered is legal and traded sustainably.
Some countries are already using new technologies to optimize trade procedures, facilitate legal trade and harmonize CITES permit and certificate issuance procedures with new international norms and standards. The advent of CITES electronic permitting and the single window environment illustrate these trends well.