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Tencent for the Planet aims to combat illegal online wildlife trade

Tencent, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) have launched a joint campaign - Tencent for the Planet - to combat the illegal online wildlife trade on Tencent's Weixin, QQ, and microblog platforms.
Tencent for the Planet aims to combat illegal online wildlife trade
© Yongkiet Jitwattanatam –
South African media giant, Naspers, is a major shareholder in Tencent, a provider of internet services in China.

The announcement is good news for threatened elephants as the world celebrates World Biodiversity Day and demonstrates Tencent's social responsibility commitment as a technology leader. This partnership is the first time Tencent has worked with conservation organisations to combat illegal online wildlife trade and protect elephants and other species.

Continued high demand for illegal wildlife products has greatly endangered many species like elephants, rhinos, and tigers, leaving some facing imminent extinction. The world is experiencing the worst poaching crisis in history, rivalling that in the 1980s, when more than 800 tons of ivory left Africa every year and the continent's elephant populations plunged from 1.3 million to 600,000. Scientists estimate that only 430,000 African elephants remain today with one elephant killed every 15 minutes for its ivory.

Reach and influence

"Tencent's extraordinary reach and influence will make a big difference in tackling the challenge of illegal wildlife trafficking," said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of TNC. "More than 25,000 elephants are killed each year for their ivory tusks. We need more partnerships like this if we're going to save the species."

"Although the internet provides a platform for illegal wildlife business, it also offers the tremendous hope for saving the wildlife," said Grace Ge Gabriell, Asia regional director at IFAW. "IFAW welcomes Tencent's move to take positive actions to prevent wildlife crime via social media. On World Biodiversity Day, this is the best possible gift for the elephant - the world's biggest land animal - and coming from Tencent, a true giant of the IT industry."

"It is a win-win partnership, as Tencent has the most widely-used social media services while TNC and IFAW have deep knowledge of conservation and international influence," said Kaitian Guo, chairman of Tencent Foundation Council and senior vice-president of Tencent.
"The move signals a great collaboration of Tencent's resources with TNC and IFAW's conservation expertise. Tencent is committed to leading change in this internet era in an ecologically harmonious way."

Fifth in terms of value

As one of the world's most lucrative criminal activities, valued at $19bn annually, illegal wildlife trade ranks fifth globally in terms of value, behind the trafficking in drugs, people, oil and counterfeiting. The IFAW report Wanted: Dead or Alive, Exposing the Online Wildlife Trade, of its 2014 investigation into online wildlife trade, reveals that over 33,000 endangered wildlife and wildlife parts were available for sale online in a short six-week period.

Tencent has made a concerted effort to protect the public and wildlife by clamping down on malicious and illegal activities online. It has observed the steady growth of illegal wildlife trade on the internet through recent user complaints. As a result, Tencent has shut down in March a group of social media accounts which were proven to be involved in illegal online wildlife business activities.

Tencent launched the Weixin official account for Tencent for the Planet (Weixin ID: gh_ed2511c85ff9) to provide a reporting channel and to promote wider conservation awareness and knowledge sharing. To better protect elephants, Tencent also opened a voting process for Weixin users for a new set of emoji featuring elephants.

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