Killing with Keystrokes


People use eBay to sell more than just Juicy Couture and used plasmas – you can also find elephant ivory products and endangered animals. This fact was highlighted recently following a six-week investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). The investigation, tracking more than 7,000 wildlife products listings on 183 websites in 11 countries, discovered that
eBay was responsible for two-thirds of the online trade in wildlife
animal products worldwide.

And of the over 4000 elephant ivory listings uncovered by the investigation, most of the sales took place on eBay’s U.S. site. In fact, the investigation found that more than 70% of all endangered species’ products listed online for sale happened in the United States.

eBay’s response to this disturbing news was to say “no more”. They announced that they are instituting a global ban on the sale of elephant ivory products by January 1, 2009 – and they want other web sites to do the same.

But this isn’t the first time that eBay has announced a ban on selling
elephant ivory. Just last year, following an another IWAF report, Bidding for Extinction (2007), which found 2,275 ivory items for sale on eight national eBay sites in a single week, eBay announced a ban on cross-border trade in elephant ivory. IWAF’s recent investigation and report (Killing with Keystrokes: An Investigation of the Illegal Wildlife Trade on the World Wide Web) illustrates the ineffectiveness of that ban and highlights the importance of not only global bans but also better enforcement of these bans.

This latest IWAF report believes that “a lack of stringent and enforceable legislation that clearly declares trade in endangered wildlife online as a serious criminal offence” and “weak monitoring and enforcement” are two primary reasons why this trade continues and calls on CITIES (UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) governments, internet marketplaces, internet service providers, and individuals to work harder to stop illegal wildlife trade over the internet.

Their recommendations:

-Enact robust domestic legislation on internet wildlife trade.

-Implement and empower effective enforcement.

-Increase public awareness.

-Devise new ways to monitor and curtail the online trade in endangered wildlife.

eBay’s determination to enforce a global ban on elephant ivory is a great step in making this all happen. But it’s only one small step and more action must follow.

Image: inottowa