eBay announces ivory ban in wake of IFAW report

Monday, October 20, 2008
San Francisco, CA
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – www.ifaw.org) applauds eBay’s decision to institute a global ban on the sale of elephant ivory products by 1 January 2009 and calls on all other internet traders to follow their example.

eBay’s decision was announced just hours before the release of IFAW’s latest investigative report showing Internet trade in wildlife poses a significant and immediate threat to the survival of elephants and many other endangered species.

The report, which followed a six-week investigation that tracked more than 7,000 wildlife product listings on 183 Web sites in 11 countries, singled out eBay as the largest contributor to the problem, responsible For almost two-thirds of the online trade in wildlife products worldwide

IFAW’s report, Killing with Keystrokes: An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web, will be released tomorrow and shows that more than 70% of all endangered species’ products listed for sale on the Internet occur in the United States. The amount of trade tracked in the U.S. was nearly 10 times the trade tracked in the next two leading countries, the United Kingdom and China.

Elephant ivory dominated the investigation, comprising 73% of all product listings tracked. Exotic birds were second, accounting for nearly 20% of the listings tracked, but primates, big cats and other animals are also falling victim to the e-trade in live animals and wildlife products, according to the report.

“IFAW congratulates eBay on this very important step to protect elephants. With these findings and eBay’s leadership, there is no doubt left that all Internet dealers need to take responsibility for their impact on endangered species by enacting and enforcing a ban on all online wildlife trade. eBay has set the standard for protecting elephants, now governments and other online dealers need to follow their example,” said Barbara Cartwright, IFAW Campaigns Manager.

Over 4,000 elephant ivory listings were uncovered during the investigation, with most of the sales taking place on eBay’s U.S. site. In one instance, a user purchased a pair of elephant tusks off eBay for more than $21,000.

“With a few limited exceptions, selling ivory has been illegal since 1989,” said Jeff Flocken, Director of IFAW’s Washington D.C. office. “However, Web sites are still teeming with ivory trinkets, bracelets, and even whole tusks for sale.”

“Internet dealers profit off of every piece of elephant ivory sold on their Web sites, and every piece of that ivory came from a dead elephant.”

International trade in wildlife is estimated to reach well into the billions of US dollars annually – a black market rivaling the size of the international trade in illegal drugs and weapons.  Every year, more than 20,000 elephants are illegally slaughtered in Africa and Asia to meet demand for ivory products. African and Asian elephants are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the international Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

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