London, May 23 (IANS): The online sale of endangered and threatened wildlife was rife across Europe, ranging from live cheetahs, orangutans, bears, polar bear skins, live reptiles and birds, a new investigation has revealed.
Researchers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) spent six weeks tracking adverts on 100 online marketplaces in four countries, the UK, Germany, France and Russia, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.
They found more than 5,000 adverts offering to sell almost 12,000 items, worth $4 million in total.
All the specimens were species in which trade is restricted or banned by the global Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.
Wildlife groups have worked with online marketplaces including eBay, Gumtree and Preloved to cut the trade and the results of the survey are an improvement compared to a previous Ifaw report in 2014.
In March, 21 technology giants including Google, eBay, Etsy, Facebook and Instagram became part of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, and committed to bring the online illegal trade in threatened species down by 80 per cent by 2020.
“It is great to see we are making really significant inroads into disrupting and dismantling the trade,” said Tania McCrea-Steele at Ifaw. “But the scale of the trade is still enormous.”
Almost 20 per cent of the adverts were for ivory, while reptiles for the pet trade were the single biggest group, making up 37 per cent, the Guardian quoted the investigation as saying.
Live turtles and tortoises were also being sold in large numbers. Endangered birds were also common, making up 31 per cent of the adverts.
Parrots were the most frequently advertised, but almost 500 owls and 350 birds of prey were also offered.