eBay's New Year resolution: Protect endangered elephants

Monday, December 29, 2008
Yarmouth Port, MA - United States
The New Year should begin well for elephants with eBay's worldwide ban on ivory products set to go into effect January 1, 2009. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW - www.ifaw.org) played a key role in the Internet company's decision to ban ivory by providing extensive data to eBay on the buying and selling of illegal wildlife species and products over the Web.

“IFAW is grateful to eBay for taking this important step forward for elephant conservation. By setting the bar with a global ban on ivory, eBay is proving to be an example for both governments and online dealers to also take a stand on one of today’s most critical wildlife issues – Internet trade,” said Barbara Cartwright, IFAW Campaigns Manager.

eBay’s decision, made on the 20th of October, was announced in conjunction with the release of IFAW’s investigative report, Killing with Keystrokes: An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web. The report shows that Internet trade in wildlife poses a significant and immediate threat to the survival of elephants and many other endangered species.

The report followed a three-month investigation that tracked more than 7,000 wildlife product listings on 183 Web sites in 11 countries and singled out eBay as the largest platform with their users responsible for almost two-thirds of the online wildlife trade worldwide.

“Ending the online trade in tusks of the world’s largest land mammal couldn’t come at a better time,” continued Cartwright. “With a tonnage of ivory now entering the legal market following recent stockpile sales in southern Africa, online marketplaces are ripe with opportunity for illicit trade. Elephants are already an endangered species and we cannot afford – the elephants cannot afford – for this to be propagated any further.”

Every year, more than 20,000 elephants are illegally slaughtered in Africa and Asia to meet demand for ivory products. With limited resources, African range states are struggling to combat the attack on their most valued wildlife heritage.

With limited exceptions made by government entities, selling elephant ivory has been illegal since 1989. In the U.S., African and Asian elephants are protected under the Endangered Species Act and internationally, through the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

“With these findings and eBay’s leadership, there is no doubt left that all Internet marketplaces need to take responsibility for their impact on endangered species by enacting and enforcing a ban on all online wildlife trade,” said Cartwright.

Jack Christin, Sr. Regulatory Counsel for eBay Inc. said: “eBay already had stringent restrictions in place for the sale of ivory, which is regulated by a complex set of laws and treaties. Due to the unique nature of eBay’s global online marketplace and the complexity surrounding the sale of ivory, we decided to ban the sale of ivory on eBay. We appreciate the support from the IFAW in assisting us and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the implementation of the global ban. Like the IFAW, ultimately we feel this is the best way to protect the endangered and protected species from which a significant portion of ivory products are derived.

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