WWF cracks code words for illegal online wildlife trade

The traders used ‘four wheeler’ for star tortoises and striped T-shirt for tiger skin

The World Wide Fund for Nature-India (WWF-I) has cracked the secret codes used for illegal online trade of animals, reptiles and mammals. The breakthrough was made by TRAFFIC, the wildlife crime control wing of the organisation.

Talking to The Hindu, the head of TRAFFIC Shekhar Kumar Niraj said illegal online wildlife trade started thriving in the country in the last four years, coinciding with the popularity of various social media, particularly among the youth.

A Chennai-based 17-year-old was recently found to be involved in the sale of baby star tortoises. Youngsters are also lured in by the high amount of money involved.

Dr. Niraj said those involved in such trade were given secret names for a dozen species.

For example, the traders used ‘four wheeler’ to indicate star tortoises and striped T-shirt for tiger skin. TRAFFIC has identified the code words for a dozen species. Star tortoises, fresh-water turtles, monitor lizards, red sand boa, tiger and leopard claws, birds, and exotic species are among the major items that are traded, Dr. Niraj added.

Though it is possible to take action if such transactions occur within the borders of the country it is virtually impossible to trace the offenders are not from the country.


Harmonising of laws and policies of various countries could help in curbing this, Dr. Niraj said. Another solution was to create cyber crime wings in Forest departments. The forest departments in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra already have such wings.

“It is high time the enforcing agencies take a serious note of this violation and make a meticulous monitoring of this illegal trade,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 9:01:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/wwf-cracks-code-words-for-illegal-online-wildlife-trade/article6504437.ece

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