eBay bans all ivory trade worldwide
Humane Society International (HSI) has applauded a commendable decision by eBay to ban the sale of ivory on its website marketplaces worldwide, beginning on 1st January.
Ivory objects offered on eBay are most commonly made from the tusks of African or Asian elephants. Based on investigations of the ivory trade, HSI believes that many of these ivory objects are illegal in origin, most likely from the estimated 20,000 to 23,000 African elephants poached every year.
HSI has long been concerned about the sale of elephant ivory on the internet and on eBay in particular. In 2002, a HSI investigation discovered thousands of ivory items offered each day on eBay. HSI brought its concerns to eBay. The company has been examining the issue ever since.
"We too are concerned that the global demand for ivory has been a significant factor in the poaching of endangered and protected species, especially African and Asian elephants," said Jack Christin, senior regulatory counsel at eBay Inc. in an email to HSI this week. "In order to protect our buyers and sellers, as well as animals in danger of extinction, we have taken the proactive measure to institute a global ban on the sale of all types of ivory."
The international trade in ivory was banned in 1990 by the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). However, there are exceptions that are easily exploited. For instance, antique ivory that is more than 100 years old, or ivory from extinct elephant relatives such as mammoths, can be legally traded. HSI investigators found traders willing to provide fraudulent documents to get around these laws in order to make ivory from recently poached elephants seem as though it were legal.
"The laws and regulations pertaining to ivory trade are confusing and riddled with loopholes that are exploited by those involved in the international and domestic ivory trade," said Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Program Manager. "eBay's decision to wash its hands of the uncontrollable, bloody ivory trade is commendable and should set an example for others."
eBay's decision comes on the heels of an announcement last week that, in late October and early November, five southern African countries will sell more than 100 tons of stockpiled ivory to Japan and China in a controversial one-time trade deal agreed by CITES. The two importing countries are not legally allowed to export the ivory or objects made from it.
Facts about ivory trade:
· Ivory objects in trade are most commonly made from the tusks of African or Asian elephants, but the term can also be used to describe the teeth of other animals including walrus, hippos and whales.
· Asian elephants are an endangered species with fewer than 32,000 remaining in the wild. African elephants are a threatened species with fewer than 600,000 remaining in the wild.
· An estimated 20,000 to 23,000 African elephants are poached annually www.bornfree.org.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/files/reports/FINAL_Ivory_Report.pdf