Page last updated at 23:56 GMT, Sunday, 21 March 2010

Internet threatens rare species, conservationists warn

Chunks of tuna for sale at a market in Tokyo
Japan opposed a proposed ban on the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna

Conservationists say the internet has emerged as one of the biggest threats to endangered species.

Campaigners say it is easier than ever before to buy and sell anything from live baby lions to polar bear pelts on online auction sites and chatrooms.

The findings were presented at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), which is meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Several proposals to give endangered species more protection were defeated.

Delegates will vote on changes to the trade in ivory later this week.

Web effect

"The internet is becoming the dominant factor overall in the global trade in protected species," said Paul Todd of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

He said thousands of endangered species are regularly traded on the internet, as buyers and sellers take advantage of the anonymity - and vast global market - the world wide web can offer.

Those trying to police illegal sales say the size of problem is almost impossible to estimate. They say the US is the biggest market, but that Europe, China, Russia and Australia also play a large part.

On Sunday, delegates voted to ban all international trade in a rare type of Iranian salamander, the Kaiser's Spotted Newt, which the World Wildlife Fund says has been devastated by the internet trade.

However, more high-profile attempts to ban trade in polar bears, bluefin tuna and rare corals have all failed, leaving environmental activists dismayed, the BBC's Stephanie Hancock reports from Doha.

A proposal from the US and Sweden to regulate the trade in red and pink coral - which is crafted into expensive jewellery and sold extensively on the web - was defeated.

Delegates voted the idea down mostly over concerns the increased regulations might impact poor fishing communities.

Print Sponsor

Ivory and tuna top wildlife talks
13 Mar 10 |  Science & Environment
Japan protest over tuna ban plan
11 Mar 10 |  Asia-Pacific
Crime rings boost ivory smuggling
11 Nov 09 |  Science & Environment
Cash row at wildlife trade forum
16 Jun 07 |  Science & Environment

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Cape TimesUpsurge in illegal trade attributed to the internet - 32 hrs ago
CHINAdaily Demise of coral, salamander show impact of Web - 37 hrs ago
The Scotsman Survival risk to rare species from illegal online trade - 39 hrs ago
CNEWS Internet fueling illegal wildlife trade - 41 hrs ago Web trade a threat to wildlife - 46 hrs ago
* May require registration

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific