IFAW to eBay: First clean up your own site

Friday, September 5, 2008
Yarmouth Port, MA
IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) expressed dismay with eBay’s investment in a new “socially responsible” web site when it has not yet meaningfully addressed significant animal welfare and conservation issues on its own flagship site. 
This week, eBay launched WorldofGood.com, billing it as “a new e-commerce marketplace” that offers “products that have a positive impact on people and the planet.” This contrasts with eBay’s global policies which IFAW has shown abdicate responsibility for the purchase and sale of endangered species on its sites worldwide.

“We appreciate eBay taking a leadership role in making online shopping more ethical and transparent,” said Peter Pueschel, Director of IFAW’s Wildlife Trade program. “Unfortunately, the constructive goals of WorldofGood.com are a very small concession offered towards addressing a much larger problem.” Worldwide, the trade in illegal wildlife is estimated to be in the billions of dollars per year – a black market believed to be surpassed only by the illegal trade in drugs and guns. “If eBay doesn’t clean up its own site, it will continue to drive animals toward extinction by running a marketplace for people to buy and sell illegal wildlife products.”
 
The world is not good for animals like elephants which are threatened by the online trade in ivory. Through investigations, IFAW has found that eBay accounts for a large majority of potentially illegal ivory sold openly on the web. An IFAW report in 2007 revealed that at least 90% of all investigated ivory listings on eBay were legally suspect. Furthermore, a soon to be released 2008 IFAW investigation has revealed that ivory traded on eBay has significantly increased in the United States since the 2007 report.

According to eBay, its new site allows “shoppers to see the positive social and environmental impact” of each purchase including whether it “supports animal species preservation.” Unfortunately, the flagship site does nothing to police the continued illegal trade of animal products on eBay’s main site. “Ironically, while one site purports to offer items that protect species the other is offering products that endanger species” said Jeffery Flocken, IFAW DC Office Director.” It is estimated that up to 20,000 elephants are killed each year to supply the illegal ivory trade.
 
“Until eBay bans the sale of ivory on all its websites and enforces its existing policies it will continue to play a role in driving endangered species to extinction.” said Flocken. “The problem isn’t that ethically responsible online shoppers don’t have a place to go to, the problem is that eBay needs to shut down the illegal trade on its main site before it’s too late.”

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Jeff Flocken (IFAW, US Office)
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