IFAW and WCS Investigation Reveals Thriving Ivory and Wildlife Trade on Craigslist

IFAW and WCS Investigation Reveals Thriving Ivory and Wildlife Trade on Craigsli
Tuesday, 28 April, 2015
Washington, D.C.

As Report Finds Hundreds of Wildlife Specimens, Valued at Millions of Dollars, Are Posted Each Month, Craigslist Takes First Step in Altering Policy

Today, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW; www.ifaw.org) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS; www.wcs.org), released their report “Elephant vs. Mouse: An Investigation of the Ivory Trade on Craigslist.”

The report’s primary objective was to quantify the amount of ivory and other elephant products available on selected Craigslist.org sites. The investigation, which collected data from 28 geographic Craigslist sub-sites between March 16 and 20, 2015, found many instances of ivory, elephant skin, and similar items being sold. Investigators tracked 522 postings offering 615 items with a combined list price of nearly $1.5 million. Extrapolated to a full year, this would yield over 6,600 items on those sub-sites alone, with a list price of more than $15 million. From these numbers, it is clear that the ivory trade on Craigslist is alive and well.

Prior to releasing the report, IFAW and WCS engaged with Craigslist to see what could be done to prevent the sale of illegal ivory and wildlife products on their various sites. As a result of these conversations, Craigslist recently updated their policy to include a clear statement prohibiting the sale of “ivory; endangered, imperiled and/or protected species and any parts thereof.”

“The situation on Craigslist shows just how rampant wildlife trade is on the Internet, especially when host sites don’t do enough to stop it,” said Peter LaFontaine, campaigns officer for IFAW. “eBay, Etsy and many other online marketplaces have willingly cooperated with law enforcement to reduce wildlife trafficking on their platforms. Craigslist’s decision to explicitly list ivory among the site’s prohibited items is a step in the right direction, but they must do more to actively enforce this policy and eliminate ivory sales from their site.”

“This important investigation shows that ivory markets are still open and prevalent in the U.S.,” said John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president for public affairs and director of the 96 Elephants campaign. “WCS and 96 Elephants are focused on stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand, and we are hopeful that this report will shed light on the need to close  domestic ivory markets.”

The investigation is not without precedent. In 2008, IFAW released a similar report on eBay.com, entitled “Killing with Keystrokes.” 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, although problems remain. Also in 2014, IFAW released another report, “Bidding Against Survival: The Elephant Poaching Crisis and the Role of Auctions in the U.S. Ivory Market,” which explored how in today’s globalized society the sale of ivory in the U.S. helps to fuel the poaching of elephants in Africa. WCS and 96 Elephants targeted Antiques Roadshow last year with a successful campaign that led to the popular PBS Program to agree to stop appraising ivory tusks on the air and to educate viewers about the ivory trade. 

This report comes as federal and state initiatives are underway to curtail the trade in ivory and other wildlife products in an effort to save elephants and other wildlife. IFAW, WCS and 96 Elephants’ 195 partner organizations are currently working on strengthening a proposed federal ban, while advocating for state ivory bans in California and other states..  Last year, New York and New Jersey passed state bans that closed loopholes in the federal law.

It is estimated that 96 elephants are gunned down every day by poachers in Africa – some 35,000 each year.  At current rates Central Africa’s forest elephants will be extinct in ten years.

To view the full report, please visit: https://www.ifaw.org/sites/default/files/IFAW-craigslist-ivory-report-2015.pdf.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org<https://www.wcs.org>; https://www.facebook.com/TheWCS; https://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia  Follow: @thewcs.

96 Elephants
WCS is leading global efforts to save Africa’s elephants and end the current poaching and ivory trafficking crisis. In September 2013, WCS launched its 96 Elephants campaign to stop the killing, stop the trafficking, and stop the demand. The WCS campaign focuses on: securing effective moratoria on sales of ivory; bolstering elephant protection; and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the elephant poaching crisis. www.96elephants.org<https://www.96elephants.org>

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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