India Claims Amazon.com (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) Facilitate Illegal Wildlife Trade

Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN)

The Indian government said that over 100 international and national e-commerce websites, including Amazon.com, Inc , eBay Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , are involved in selling rare animals and wildlife products. India’s Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) collected a list of 106 online portals, being used for the illegal trade. The alleged shopping portals are either trading wildlife or are running smuggling-related advertisements, according to the reports.

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Illegal Wildlife Trade in India

The illegal wildlife trade issue has long been a problem in India. The authorities are now increasingly monitoring online portals, which are being used for an illegal wildlife trade. The WCCB in 2013 found that more than 200 sites across the country were used to exchange animal body parts, according to CNET.com.

The list, which was presented in Parliament on Monday by Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, also includes OLX, Snapdeal, Quikr, Petsmart and Rediff, according to a report published on Mongabay.

Dave said that they held a meeting with the representatives from online trade portals in May to inform them on issues regarding illegal wildlife trade. He also added that the WCCB has now hired Cyber Crime Specialists, who will monitor online advertisements of wildlife items.

The minister also told Parliament that the said websites and e-commerce companies are aware of the issue, and many have removed the objectionable content from their platforms.

The Times of India reported that wildlife traffickers are using code words to sell endangered animals online. Koalas, for example, are often illegally sold under the code “Australian teddy bear.” The code name tiger skin is “dhaariwala chaddar” (striped sheet), according to the publication.

Snapdeal, an online marketplace based in New Delhi, India, told the Economic Times that the company is working “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.”

Amazon India Removing Illegally Wildlife Items

The U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon.com, Inc said that the company is taking actions against suspicious items being sold on its portal. In May, the online retailer removed nearly 400 wildlife items where were sold illegally on its website, following an online petition started by Wildlife SOS, a wildlife rescue and conservation organization based in India. According to the reports, the items being sold on Amazon included alligator heads, preserved snakes, protected species of starfish, rare butterflies and beetles, wallets made of stingray skin, and hunting devices like snares.

“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,” an Amazon India spokesperson told Times of India. “Such products are no longer available on Amazon.in and in addition, we have strictly enforced any attempts to inadvertently sell them. We have also provided information as and when required by various government bodies and will continue to do so.”

eBay Inc said that the company has a zero tolerance policy for any wrongdoing.

“We have strict policies in place to stop the sale of products from endangered animals on the site. However, if any listing violation is found on the site, then not only is the listing removed, but the seller may also be subject to a range of other actions,” an EBay India spokesperson told Times of India.

Amazon.com, Inc sees a “huge potential in the Indian economy” and the firm plans to invest up to $3 billion to expand its operations in the country. Last week, the online retailer opened its largest fulfillment center in Sonipat near New Delhi. The fulfillment center has a storage capacity of over 800,000 cubic feet. It will support thousands of small and medium businesses (SMEs) in India, where the digital economy is flourishing.

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