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Grisly, Murky, Multi-Million Pound Illegal Wildlife Cyber-Trade Exposed


eBay has introduced even tougher preventative measures on its site as a result of cooperation with IFAW and other organisations, and this year will take tougher sanctions against sellers who flout eBay’s policies on wildlife products.

eBay Director Wolfgang Weber commented, “eBay does not tolerate illegal wildlife trade on its site. In addition, eBay policies regarding ivory are stricter than the law and generally prohibit all ivory products. eBay is committed to an ongoing programme of strict enforcement working closely with IFAW as well as law enforcement.”

“Acting on information from IFAW and other organisations, we have been able to put new measures in place to prevent sellers from listing items of concern on the site, and in very many cases, we are able to remove listings before a sale is made, and then take action against the seller. The sellers who list these type of items intentionally try to circumvent the controls in place, for instance, by listing items using code words, but nonetheless we have been able to significantly reduce the number of items that they actually have been able to sell. In order to even better address this issue, we will apply stricter sanctions against sellers who intentionally circumvent our enforcement,” said Weber.

Illegal Wildlife Trade
* Total items for sale equates to total number of live animals and parts and products offered on all advertisements recorded (e.g., one advertisement may have offered 10 animals for sale). © IFAW

IFAW’s investigation specifically targeted the sale of species listed on Appendix I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which regulates and restricts the trade in wildlife and their parts and products. Many of the 280 online sites monitored either didn’t ask customers to demonstrate that their trade met with national laws, or else the provisos were hidden to the extent that customers simply wouldn’t be aware of them.

Worldwide, the illegal wildlife trade is not only a threat to wildlife but also to national and global security, and to social and economic development in the countries where it occurs. Wildlife crime ranks among the most serious, dangerous and damaging of international crimes along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales. Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated US $ 19 billion (almost £11.5bn) a year.


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Source: IFAW. 



While all other advertisements were logged according to species, it was not possible to do this in the case of ivory as it derives from the teeth and tusks of various animals, including walrus, elephant, hippo, whale and narwhal species, used in the carving trade.

There were challenges identifying some ivory items as these were apparently sometimes disguised using code words, particularly on sites prohibiting the sale of ivory. IFAW worked with an ivory expert to identify these items down to the species level where possible. However, in some instances, it was not possible to be certain which species was the source of the ivory.

About IFAW

Founded in 1969, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is currently one of the largest animal welfare and conservation charities in the world. It rescues and protects animals around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org.