India's leading e-commerce sites are confronting an unusual problem: government claims that their consumer platforms have been used for banned trade in endangered animals. The sites have been swift to respond, taking down posts and committing to strictly monitoring illegal wildlife trade on their sites.
On Monday, Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, said that instances of online smuggling of rare animals and their body parts was found on as many as 106 sites including popular ones such as Amazon, Snapdeal, OLX and eBay.
"Several websites are seen advertising sale of rare animals and their parts," Dave said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha even as he furnished a list of 106 such websites collated by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
Dave said the WCCB has hired cyber crime specialists to check for any online advertisements of rare animals.
A Snapdeal spokesperson said in a statement, "We work closely with WCCB which has provided an updated list of banned products in June 2016 to facilitate detection of any attempts by sellers to list such products on online marketplaces." The spokesperson added Snapdeal is "fully committed to support the Environment Ministry in this endeavour."
An Amazon India spokesperson told Economic Times such products were no longer available on its India portal, Amazon.in.
"In May this year, Amazon India took down 296 items in the 'animal specimen' category and 104 items under the 'snares or traps' category that were listed by third-party sellers, after Wildlife SOS drew our attention to them," the spokesperson said. "We have since engaged with the government and provided our utmost sup port to help monitor the situation. We have also provided information as and when required by various government bodies and will continue to do so."
Meanwhile, eBay has sad it has zero tolerance for wrongdoing and has strict policies to stop sale of products from endangered animals on its website. Quikr has maintained if they come across fraudulent listing, they delete it and also block the user.
Atul Tewari, COO of Quikr in his response said that the company uses a combination of human effort, technology and phone verification to moderate our listings and has a team of over 100 people who work round the clock to manually review them
A meeting of representatives from online trade portals was convened in May this year to discuss issues pertaining to online wildlife trade, sensitise them about it and discuss modalities to assist WCCB in case of such detections.
Dave said during training and sensitisation programmes conducted by WCCB, the issue of illegal online wildlife trade is being highlighted so that officials involved in the enforcement are abreast of such trends.
With PTI inputs