Can Artificial Intelligence Help Pinch Poachers?
31 October 2019
On 14 October wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and Alibaba Group announced the signing of a strategic memorandum of understanding (MoU) to join forces to address the illegal wildlife trade that is devastating threatened and endangered species of wild plants and animals worldwide.
The organisations signed an MoU to cooperate on efforts to reduce illegal wildlife trade, pledging zero tolerance towards the listing and sales of illegal wildlife products online and working to jointly educate consumers.
Growing demand for illegal wildlife products has taken a toll on many species. According to TRAFFIC statistics, there are only an estimated 3 200 tigers left in the wild, a population decline of almost 97% since the 1900s. TRAFFIC’s analysis also shows that illegal rhino horn trade has now reached the highest levels since the early 1990s, with more than 1 000 rhinos poached in South Africa for their horns in 2013. Illegal trade in ivory increased by nearly 300% from 1998 to 2011.
“Alibaba Group has and will continue to work towards combating illegal wildlife trade over our platforms and is pleased to engage in this extremely meaningful collaboration with TRAFFIC; we welcome cooperation with other partners to explore innovative ways to jointly protect endangered species and also call on our employees, customers and industry peers to work towards reducing the demand for endangered wildlife products and proactively adopt socially responsible policies that drive sustainable development,” said Yu Weimin, Vice President of Internet Security, Alibaba Group.
“Convincing action to ‘starve the supply’ of and reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products into the online market is critical if we are to succeed in conserving some of our most charismatic wild species. In this, we are delighted to have Alibaba Group as a partner and are certain the example they set will inspire positive behavioural change,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.
Under the MoU, the organisations will carry out online monitoring and information sharing to enable effective action to reduce illegal wildlife products entering the e-commerce market.
TRAFFIC will provide training and technical support to help Alibaba Group’s staff build the capacity to identify illegal wildlife products offered for sale online. Creative messaging will be developed and distributed through online ads, apps and social media channels, to influence both buyers and sellers to reject illicit trade in wildlife parts and products.
Alibaba Group’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. The company is the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world in terms of gross merchandise volume. Founded in 1999, the company provides the fundamental technology infrastructure and marketing reach to help businesses leverage the power of the Internet to establish an online presence and conduct commerce with hundreds of millions of consumers and other businesses.
Alibaba Group’s major businesses include:
Alibaba Group also provides payment and/or escrow services on its marketplaces through its contractual arrangements with Alipay, a related company of Alibaba Group. Through China Smart Logistics, a 48%-owned affiliate, Alibaba Group operates a central logistics information system that connects a network of express delivery companies in China.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. TRAFFIC was established in 1976 in what remains a unique role as a global specialist, leading and supporting efforts to identify conservation challenges and support solutions linked to trade in wild animals and plants. TRAFFIC’s mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.