2007 - Illegal Ivory Trade Results on eBay™

eBay™ is the Internet’s single biggest shop window and was, until recently, one of the main channels through which trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products are conducted online.

eBay™ changed its policy following the release of IFAW research into the sale of illegal wildlife and wildlife products on their site.

Our eBay™ survey in 2007, Bidding for Extinction, tested the effectiveness of eBay’s rules and monitoring systems on its  web sites in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, UK, USA and China. All countries were monitored for seven days except China which was monitored for four days.

Ivory selling found to be widespread in 2007

The results revealed an alarming level of illegal trade, specifically in ivory items. More than 90 percent of the items we looked at violated the ivory listing policies of national eBay web sites.

  • eBay Australia - Of 197 elephant ivory items listed, only two (1%) fully complied with the site’s ivory policy to provide evidence of authenticity.
  • eBay Canada - Of 717 items found in a search for ‘ivory’ and, 627 were elephant ivory.  Ads for 496 items were described as antique ivory but without any proof, while 67 other items referred neither to age nor eBay policy.
  • eBay China - We found 76 ivory items and 33 products made from other endangered wild animals, including products made from tiger teeth or claws, rhino horns and turtle shells. 
  • eBay France - We found 703 ivory products on eBay France.  The company’s policy is to remove prohibited items within 36 hours of being told of them, but having reported 200 ivory items, not one had been removed up to 48 hours later.
  • eBay Germany - Although eBay Germany reflected the best regulation, our research found 66 ivory items during the survey week, of which 22 items contravened eBay Germany’s explicit policy. Once reported all suspected items were removed. 
  • eBay Netherland / Marktplaats - We found 92 listings for elephant ivory on eBay Netherlands, all of which broke the global ban on ivory trading.  We also investigated ivory listings on Marktplaats, an eBay subsidiary site in the Netherlands, finding 104 listings for elephant ivory, none of which met site requirements that there should be no trade in endangered species.   
  • eBay UK - Of 424 elephant ivory items listed, 347 were Violation 1 Listings (unsupported claims of antiquity) and 67 were Violation 2 Listings (neither age of item nor eBay policy mentioned).  We also found products made from hippo ivory and tortoiseshell.  
  • eBay USA - Ninety ivory items were listed during the survey week, of which 73 did not comply with the regulations for the sale of ivory.  We also noted that at the time of the survey, eBay USA’s ivory policies were confusing and poorly implemented, with no requirement to provide proof that ivory is legal.