A study released yesterday by the global wildlife NGO TRAFFIC suggests that most of Viet Nam’s online illegal wildlife trade does not take place on websites ending in .vn, as previously thought, and instead monitoring efforts should focus on .com sites, and social media.
The study, available online, is titled Viet Nam Online: A rapid assessment of e-commerce wildlife trade in Viet Nam in 2017. It monitored 13 websites ending in .vn using keyword searches for products like elephants, leopards, pangolins, rhinos, and tigers. Of the websites surveyed, 30% were found to have advertisements for these vulnerable and exploited animals. A total of 14 advertisements in all offered 1,072 selected wildlife products. All but six of the advertised products were made from elephant ivory, with the remainder coming from tigers.
This is in contrast to similar surveys previously conducted of Viet Nam’s online wildlife trade that have included .com domain names, including social media websites, that discovered many more advertisements for wildlife products. They include a 2017 TRAFFIC survey that found about 1100 tiger products offered for sale in 187 advertisements from 85 unique sellers on four e-commerce websites and two social media websites over a period of 25 days.
Online trade in Viet Nam is regulated by law. People who break it can be punished with the same severity as people who sell illegal wildlife products in a physical marketplace. However, collecting evidence and prosecuting online crime can be very difficult, and Vietnam prosecutes few wildlife crimes. The report recommends the Vietnamese government adapt to ensure effective law enforcement across online channels. Traffic also encouraged Vietnam’s government to form a specialized team to focus on online monitoring of wildlife trade. The study also urges law enforcement personnel and members of the public to report online wildlife crime through a variety of methods suggested in the report.
Vietnam is among the top markets for illegal wildlife products derived from endangered species and often the country is both a marketplace for Chinese nationals buying these products, or is used as a transit stop as these items make their way to China. Take a look at the report yourself.