Potential CITES trade ban for rare salamander underscores wildlife e-commerce

Mar 15, 2010

A little-known Iranian salamander is poised to become the first example of a species requiring international government protection because of e-commerce - a major threat to endangered wildlife that authorities are struggling to address.

The Kaiser's spotted newt, found only in Iran, is considered Critically Endangered and is believed to number fewer than 1,000 mature wild individuals. The is being proposed for an Appendix I listing during a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in of Endangered Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Appendix I is the highest level of protection under the CITES appendices system and bans all commercial international trade in the species.

The Kaiser's spotted newt is emblematic of the availability of the internet as an additional way to sell products made from endangered wildlife. It is the first species to be up for protection mostly because of e-commerce sales.

The newt is sought as a pet by collectors and wildlife enthusiasts and numbers have declined by more than 80 percent in recent years.

Meanwhile, CITES governments will consider in the coming days whether to take a more proactive approach to regulating the online trade in endangered species. This would include the creation of an international database of the trade, scientific research to gauge the correlation between wildlife loss and online trade, and closer collaboration with INTERPOL, the international law enforcement agency.

In 2006, an investigation by TRAFFIC into the sale of Kaiser's spotted newts revealed 10 websites claiming to stock the species. One Ukrainian company claimed to have sold more than 200 wild-caught specimens in a single year.

"The Internet itself isn't the threat, but it's another way to market the product," said Ernie Cooper, of TRAFFIC Canada. "The Kaiser's spotted newt, for example, is expensive and most people are not willing to pay USD300 for a salamander. But through the power of the internet, tapping into global market, you can find buyers".

WWF and TRAFFIC are concerned by other items sold and bought online, including elephant ivory, and precious corals, including red and pink coral, which currently are overharvested to make jewellery and collectables. Red and pink corals have been proposed for listing in Appendix II of CITES, a measure that would regulate their international trade

"It's a growing issue mainly because the internet and marketing on the internet is growing," Cooper said.

In addition, e-commerce will continue to be a growing issue for CITES governments.

"This is going to be an ever-growing enforcement issue for CITES," said Colman O'Criodain, WWF International Wildlife Trade Policy Analyst.

Explore further: Bangladesh development threatens fragile Sundarbans mangroves

Provided by World Wildlife Fund

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study: Wildlife trade figures unreliable

Nov 04, 2005

Wildlife trade reported by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora reportedly differs from government figures.

Elephant-size loopholes sustain Thai ivory trade

Jun 19, 2009

Legal loopholes and insufficient law enforcement mean that Thailand continues to harbour the largest illegal ivory market in Asia, says a new report from the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.

Endangered turtles no longer turned into souvenirs

Mar 25, 2009

Critically endangered hawksbill turtles are no longer being sold as tourist souvenirs in the Dominican Republic after a powerful government campaign cracked down on shops illegally trading such items. More ...

UN Agency: Tiger on verge of extinction

Mar 15, 2010

(AP) -- The world has "failed miserably" at protecting tigers in the wild, bringing an animal that is a symbol for many cultures and religions to "the verge of extinction," a top official with the United Nations wildlife ...

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

1 hour ago

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

4 hours ago

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.