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Illegal Wildlife Poaching: 7 Species Endangered By Internet Trade (PHOTOS)

Huffington Post     First Posted: 08/13/2010 3:40 pm   Updated: 05/25/2011 5:20 pm

Earlier this year, nearly 200 nations convened for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Doha, Qatar, and the Internet's role in the rapid growth of illegal wildlife trade was a hot topic.

The Independent reports
that illegal wildlife trading is gaining popularity on the Internet due to the ease with which poachers are able to find customers willing to pay premium prices, and though wildlife law enforcement has made significant advances elsewhere, the Internet provides a challenging new scope due to its largely unregulated nature.

Though the Internet isn't specifically condemned for the decline in rare and exotic animal populations, it acts as a neutral tool to facilitate global trade and expedite the search for desired markets, as with any area of commerce.

Greenfudge.org reports that over 7,000 species were sold on auction sites, classified ads and chat rooms in 2008, according to International Fund for Animal Welfare surveys. The $3.8 million in online transactions consisted mostly of African ivory, exotic birds, pelts from protected species, and rare products like tiger bone wine.

Head of the CITES team at London Heathrow Airport, Charles Mackay, told the BBC, "The internet is a huge communication tool, it's very easy. In the past it was a lot more difficult, so it's made networks a lot bigger."

Here are just 7 of the many species threatened by illegal wildlife trading:

Kaiser's Spotted Newt
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Only found in four streams of Iran's Zagros Mountains, Kaiser's spotted newt is a rare salamander believed to be among the first species being driven to extinction from internet trade. While poachers may not find a local market readily willing to pay high prices for the creature, turning to the internet has yielded much larger interests prepared to hand over around $300 for each newt. The Independent reports that the demand has reduced the population by 80% between 2001 and 2005, with less than 1,000 mature newts estimated to remain.
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