eBay and Gumtree endangered wildlife bans being flouted

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Sydney, AU

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) today launched Click to Delete, a report that exposes the widespread sale of endangered animal products on Australia’s most popular online trading platforms.

“We found a whopping 266 per cent increase in the number of advertisements for endangered wildlife since we conducted comparable research in 2008.” commented Ms Isabel McCrea, IFAW Regional Director, Australia.

IFAW said most items were found on eBay Australia with further significant amounts on its subsidiary Gumtree Australia, both of which have policies prohibiting trade in endangered or protected species, yet people are blatantly breaking those policies, in some instances by disguising their items. 

“eBay and Gumtree must improve compliance and awareness on their websites, so that no one profits from the cruel sale of protected wildlife. Our report shows that while companies like eBay and Gumtree appear to be taking a strong stance on the sale of illegal products, because they don’t police their own polices sufficiently, it seems that there’s actually nothing to stop someone advertising the sale of endangered species. That needs to change. At the very least Australian trading platforms should implement compulsory ‘pop up’ notices at the point of sale which warn traders that they may be breaking the law and require inclusion of permit information in all advertisements for wildlife products. ” said Ms McCrea.

IFAW’s investigation revealed a shocking array of endangered wildlife and wildlife products for sale online which the Click to Delete report highlights:

• Two hundred and eighty-two advertisements for endangered species and their products.
• One hundred and sixty-five ivory advertisements. eBay Australia was responsible for 145 of these listings.
• The second most common listing was for live birds (45 listings). Petlink hosted the most advertisements with 21 birds offered for sale.
• The most expensive item for sale was a rhino horn offered for sale on Quicksales for $230,000.
• Other products found included nine turtle products (mainly shells), six big cat products (including a whole leopard skin, tiger teeth and claws) and traditional medicine products containing leopard bone, seal penis and two musk deer.

IFAW is also calling on the Australian government to do much more to stop online wildlife crime.  “The online trading environment is fast moving and requires active management to outlaw unscrupulous traders and deter those who are unaware of the law. The government should tighten the law, making it an offense to offer protected species for sale.” concluded McCrea.

The international trade in endangered animals is now big business, valued at $22 billion worldwide, with some products such as rhino horn worth more by weight than gold. Worldwide it is estimated that at least 25,000 elephants and as many as 50,000 are slaughtered each year for their ivory meaning that one elephant is killed for its ivory every 15 minutes. At the same time the internet, with an ever growing number of users, is the world’s largest marketplace. Always open for business, it offers relative anonymity to sellers, making policing and enforcement more difficult than traditional methods of sale.

Ends
Notes to editors:

• Copies of Click to Delete are available upon request, or click here to download.
• Interviews with Isabel McCrea can be organised, please contact: Rebekka Thompson-Jones: T: +61 (0)2 9288 4973, M: +61 (0)401 090 034, E: rthompson@ifaw.org
• Acting on intelligence supplied by IFAW from this survey, in February 2014 investigators from the Department of the Environment executed two search warrants at properties of a Sydney-based online trading company, where they found and seized a large number of carved ivory ornaments and jewellery with an estimated value of up $80,000.

Report Methodology:

• Researchers spent 200 hours monitoring 16 websites, 14 of which are hosted in Australia, using a variety of key words designed to find endangered or vulnerable species thought to be commonly in trade.

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world, and has been active in Australia for over 30 years. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.  For more information, visit www.ifaw.org, follow us on Facebook or Twitter

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Rebekka Thompson-Jones (IFAW AU)
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