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Wildlife group applauds EBay's global ban on ivory sales

October 22, 2008 | 10:06 am


EBay Inc. has announced a global ban on sales of ivory, to take effect Jan. 1.

In its announcement, the company said:

eBay already had stringent regulations in place for the sale of ivory, which is regulated by a complex set of laws and treaties. Due to the unique nature of eBay’s global online marketplace and the complexity surrounding the sale of ivory, we will be rolling out a complete ban of the sale of ivory on eBay. We feel this is the best way to protect the endangered and protected species from which a significant portion of ivory products are derived. 

As with all policy changes, this one will take some time to roll out. As we roll out this change, we will continue to work with a number of international and domestic law enforcement authorities with any investigations they initiate into suspicious ivory sales on eBay sites. We will begin enforcing this global ban in January 2009.

The Times' Richard C. Paddock reports that EBay's action was prompted by an investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The EBay announcement came just hours after the IFAW released an investigative report -- "Killing with Keystrokes" -- on Internet trading of animal parts. The IFAW says the report found that such trading "poses a significant and immediate threat to the survival of elephants."

The group urged governments and other online dealers to follow EBay's example, and said it would monitor the company to ensure the ban is "in place and successful."

This summer, a team of researchers reported that the poaching of African elephants for their ivory was on the rise. The researchers said the annual elephant death rate from poaching was about 8% -- higher than the 7.4% annual death rate that prompted the international ban on ivory trading in 1989. The researchers noted that the elephant population was more than 1 million in the late 1980s. Today, the total African elephant population is less than 470,000.

The team was led by Samuel Wasser, a University of Washington conservation biologist, and reported its findings in the August issue of Conservation Biology, a publication of the Society of Conservation Biology.

The photo above was released when the university announced the publication of the study. Pictured along with tusks seized by authorities are weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades, used by poachers against wildlife rangers.

The work was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's African Elephant Conservation Fund, the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology and the IFAW.

-- Steve Padilla

Photo: William Clark

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