Unlisting wildlife from Craigslist

Let Craigslist know you care about elephants! Download this image and share it on your social networks!Today, IFAW and our partners at the Wildlife Conservation Society released a new report examining the trade of ivory and related wildlife products on Craigslist.org, the classified ad behemoth.

I’ve found plenty of things on the site over the years – my bike, a couple of apartments, even a summer job once – but this was the first time I hoped we wouldn’t find what we were looking for.

Unfortunately, we did.

The investigation, which collected data from 28 Craigslist’s city-sites between March 16–20,  found many instances of ivory products being sold. Investigators tracked 522 postings offering more than 600 items, for a combined asking price of nearly $1.5 million. Extrapolated to a full year, this would yield over 6,600 items with a list price exceeding $15 million. And it wasn’t just ivory – we discovered ottomans made of elephant feet, African warthog tusks, elephant-leather boots – and most of it was offered on a no-questions-asked basis.

Antique?

Just smuggled in?

Who knows?

From these results, it is clear that the ivory trade on Craigslist is alive and well. It also exemplifies how hard it is to police wildlife trade in the age of the Internet. Simply put, our laws have too many loopholes, especially when it comes to online commerce.

We’ve detailed these issues in several past investigations. In 2008, IFAW released “Killing with Keystrokes,” an investigation of the illegal wildlife trade on the web. In turn, eBay announced that it would no longer allow the sale of ivory on its platform, and has worked with IFAW since then to ensure its search filters maintain strong controls on wildlife trade. In 2014, IFAW conducted its “Wanted Dead or Alive: Exposing the Online Wildlife Trade” report, which showed that eBay’s ivory ban has been largely successful.

Craigslist already has a policy prohibiting the sale of animal parts, though you wouldn’t know it unless you dig deep into their back pages.

During the course of our investigation, we reached out to the company to ask for their help, and CEO Jim Buckmaster responded with a great first step: as of last week, the website has added ivory to its “Prohibited Items” list. Unfortunately, too many people can simply ignore the guidelines and get away with selling ivory and other wildlife products.

We know that ivory trade anywhere is a threat to elephants everywhere, which is why we want to join with Craigslist to publicize and enforce this good policy.

Our hope is that the company will follow in the footsteps of eBay, Etsy.com, and other online marketplaces that have willingly cooperated with law enforcement and conservation NGOs to reduce wildlife crimes on their platforms, particularly by using software to identify and remove  postings for ivory. We will continue to work to ensure these online marketplaces aren’t helping to drive the slaughter of imperiled species, because Craigslist should be a great place to buy a bike, not a dead elephant.

--PL

Tell Craigslist to stop the sale of elephant ivory on their website.

To read the complete report, click here.

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Experts

Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Joseph Okori
Regional Director, Southern Africa and Program Director, Landscape Conservation
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jeffrey Flocken, Regional Director, North America
Regional Director, North America
Executive Vice President
Executive Vice President
Peter LaFontaine, Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Campaigns Manager, IFAW Washington, D.C.
Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Program Director, Wildlife Crime
Country Representative, Germany
Country Representative, Germany
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy