Ebay Banning of Ivory
Ebay has finally taken a firm stance and announced on October 21st, 2008, a ban on the sale of ivory items on all six of its auction sites. The ban will be effective January 2009. Environmentalists everywhere are applauding Ebay for its effort to curb the sale of “white gold" as ivory is known and help protect the endangered species. This ban will be a major blow to the ivory trade since 83.43% of ivory trade is dependent on Ebay. According to The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s report Killing with Keystrokes, Ebay accounts for an estimated annual ivory commerce of $3.2 billion.
Every year more than 20,000 elephants are mercilessly poached mainly for their tusks which is the source of ivory. After a report by IFAW in 2007 Bidding for Extinction which holds Ebay accountable for more that 83% of the ivory commerce, Ebay instituted a ban on cross-border trading of Ivory. But since only 11% of the listings on the six Ebay sites openly advertised international shipping, there has been no significant affect on the ivory trade. Traders are able to find many ways to side-step this regulation such as listing on the auction site of the same country they wish to sell their ivory merchandise.
After a six week investigation IFAW tracked more than 7000 listings for the sale of endangered species, their parts and products. The report Killing with Keystrokes revealed the alarming extent of the ivory trade still prevalent on Ebay even after the ban. The report states that a full 63% of all trade in their investigations was shipped internationally even after the country-to-country ban was enforced.
Ebay, in consultation with IFAW, World Wildlife Fund, Humane Society of the United States and others, decided to step-up and has issued the ban on almost all ivory merchandise on its websites. Antiques with a small amount of ivory will be permitted like small ivory inlays and piano keys but they have to be from the pre-1900s period to qualify as antique.
Ebay states on its blog “The team concluded that we simply can’t ensure that ivory listed for sale on eBay is in compliance with the complex regulations that govern its sale. So, to protect our buyers and sellers, as well as animals in danger of extinction, eBay has decided to institute a global ban on the sale of all types of ivory. This global ban will be effective January 1, 2009."
IFAW has urged all buyer-seller website owners to take responsibility and ban all sale of ivory from their sites which fall in the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix I species of wildlife as well as products from those species that appear on Appendix II. It has issued measures to curb the illegal trading of ivory like asking for proper documentation, provide information on legal requirements for wildlife trading and more.
Ivory is popular because of its pearl-like texture, durability and the ease it provides in carving. If consumers of ivory stop believing it’s a precious ornament and start looking at what it actually is; a large incisor tooth of an elephant which it uses to dig, eat and play, then maybe the glamour associated with ivory will diminish and finally allow the elephants to co-exist in peace.