Halting the Internet Trade in Ivory is Key to Saving Elephants

My parents were sadly part of the significant minority who believed that you could get ivory without hurting the elephant and it wasn’t until years later that I learnt the bloody truth about my present. That trinket cost an elephant its life.

IFAW's "Bidding for Extinction" report was instrumental in eBay's decision to ban ivory auctions on their sites.

I was given a small ivory carving on my sixth birthday and when I was told that the intricate carving was made from an elephant’s tusk I wanted to know if the elephant had been killed for my gift.

My parents were sadly part of the significant minority who believed that you could get ivory without hurting the elephant and it wasn’t until years later that I learnt the bloody truth about my present.

That trinket cost an elephant its life.

Recent polling by Ipsos MORI shows that four in 10 British adults are unaware that elephants have to die before their ivory can be obtained.

This is why it is all the more disturbing that in recent years a relatively new market place has provided traders with a large platform for selling ivory.

The name of this market place? The Internet.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare has been investigating the trade in wildlife products including ivory on the internet since 2005 and we are worried by what we have found.

This year we looked into the trade in ivory on sites that can be accessed by anyone in five European countries. Over just a two week period, we found more than 660 ivory items for sale. Amazingly 98 per cent of these adverts failed to comply with the website policies or provide evidence of the legality of the items being offered for sale.

The trade in ivory is a bloody one that even to this day is costing elephants’ lives. Every piece of ivory represents a dead elephant. Reports of elephant herds being decimated by poachers is sadly all too common an occurrence and seizures of illegal ivory continue to increase. Elephants are being horrifically butchered in order to supply people with decorative trinkets.

The good news is that IFAW’s work highlighting the online ivory trade is having a significant impact.

Enforcement bodies around the globe are acknowledging that the Internet trade poses a very real threat to wildlife, including elephants. Some countries are tackling this by greater policing vigilance, while others have tightened legislation or have promised a ban in ivory sales.

Some online auction sites have voluntarily sought to clamp down on this trade by imposing their own ivory bans. eBay led the way in 2009 when they introduced an international ban on ivory sales. However traders are deliberately trying to get around the ban by disguising their ivory items, listing them as being made from other materials such as ox bone or deer antler, so I would urge everyone to report any suspicious items they find to the relevant website provider.

Despite these positive steps more needs to be done. Please take a moment to sign IFAW’s petition calling on your Government to protect the world’s remaining elephants by opposing any international trade in ivory.

-- TMS

For more information on how you can help stop the trade in ivory, visit https://www.ifaw.org

Comments: 2

6 years ago

If you see a listing on eBay with pictures that obviously show genuine ivory but is listed as ox bone or faux ivory and report it, it doesn't appear to do anything. Every time I've done this and watched the listing it's gone all the way to sale or expiring. For a while there was a box where you could write a bit and explain that you were reporting the item because it's ivory being misrepresented, but they took away that box sometime last year. Ebay's ivory rules only apply to the use of the word ivory in the listing; not the actual selling of ivory, and they don't appears to have slowed down the trade of ivory on eBay as far as I tell. Everyone knows what they're buying and selling. We need a better solution. Getting mad about this may prompt eBay to stop legitimate sale of bone collectibles... they already do that if you don't say an animal name. ... not that it appears anyone is getting very mad about this. That's not the direction we should be going. They should actually employ someone who can tell the difference between ivory and bone from a picture at least as well as the average ebuyer. It's not rocket science. New that says eBay has outlawed ivory since 2009 is counter-productive too, though, because they haven't.

6 years ago

Thank you for this informative post...YES the internet is precisely the battleground that we as individuals, far from the killing fields of Africa and Asia, can play our part in stopping the terrible demise of endangered species. My particular focus is the auction site eBay and the massive illegal ivory trade on that site...but after reporting over 100 of the thousands of ivory items on eBay with no tangible results there is no question that more drastic measures are needed to stop what I call THE EBAY OX BONE SCAM...which facilitates the largest number of illegal ivory sales in the world at any given moment. Let us use all social media to publicize this on going travesty...and ultimately after we make enough noise the corporate image makers will trump the corporate money makers to end this once and for all. Save the elephant now or never !!!

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