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Overall, most people would probably agree that the Internet is an extremely convenient and useful tool—I mean, you can look up just about anything using Google, stay in constant contact with your family or friends via email or instant message, and even post blogs—exactly as I’m doing now. But what you might not know about the Internet is that it’s also damaging our ecosystem in some ways. In fact, using search engines, Internet users are able to look up just about anything that exists on the planet, buy the item(s), and have them shipped across the world. The problem is that so many people are utilizing this convenient way of finding rare items—specifically rare animals—that the Internet is emerging as one of the greatest threats to rare species.

Okay, so you’re probably still wondering exactly what I’m talking about. In a word, I’m referring to the illegal wildlife trade, whereby Internet users can look up everything from “live baby lions to wine made from tiger bones”, according to a recent AP News article. At a recent meeting of the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the Internet’s impact was made clear when delegates voted to ban the trade of the Kaiser’s spotted newt, an animal that has been particularly devastated by the increase in Internet trade.

Moreover, in a 2008 study conducted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (INFAW) the researchers found that more than 7,000 species were sold on auction sites, classified ads, and chat rooms—in total, the animals constituted $3.8 million in sales for sellers mainly in the United States, but also in China, Europe, Russia, Asia and Australia. Since the Internet has no bounds, animal rights groups are particularly concerned about the plummeting numbers of rare and endangered animals across the world.

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