In 2007, an investigation found that eBay sold 2,275 elephant ivory items in a single week. The company promptly banned the sale of ivory on its site, a move that was praised by conservationists. Now, it seems that little has changed -- traders still use the site, disguising their products as "faux," according to the London Evening Standard, which spoke to several conservation groups about the issue.
If the ivory product was created before 1947, it is legal to trade. But this has proved difficult for eBay to verify. The intentional labeling as "faux" or ox bone confuses things even further, say conservationists. A quick eBay search for "ivory" yields over 1 million results.
"We are concerned that some people have been blatantly trying to get round the eBay ban by disguising their items," said Tania McCrea-Steele, IFAW's campaigns manager. "It may be that there are people who do not understand the consequences, or who do not understand the law so we are talking to eBay about ways in which they can improve consumer awareness on their website."
IFAW and others recommended pop-ups on eBay's site to make people aware of the ban against selling illegal ivory. eBay said that it is working closely with conservation groups to stop the sale of ivory products.
"We proactively enforce our policy and quickly take action to remove listings of items of concern," said a spokesperson. "We are also committed to educating sellers of our site guidelines."
ACTION GUIDE: Ivory
The ivory trade is the biggest driver of elephant poaching in the world, despite a global CITES ban on the sale of ivory since 1990. In 2012 alone, 22,000 African elephants were killed, often to supply a major consumer demand in Asia, especially in China. To avoid products that could help fuel the ivory trade, check out this guide by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the Unites States, there is also concern that "vintage" ivory (not from recent poaching) contributes to the ivory demand, and therefore poaching (see The Nature Conservancy for information about how most antique "legal" ivory is in fact not). To beome active in this issue, you can become in campaigns by World Wildlife Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare, International Conservation Caucus Foundation.)