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eBay bans ivory sales

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The New York Times notes that the ban – which covers all types of ivory including that which comes from elephants, hippopotamuses, walruses, and narwhals – may, like many attempts to police online activity, be difficult to enforce.

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The ban may be slow to take effect, suggested Crawford Allan, the North American regional director of Traffic, a subsidiary of the World Wildlife Fund that tracks illegal trade in wildlife.
“It’s not that they are going to turn on a switch and it’s going to end,” Mr. Allan said, pointing out that merchants need only avoid calling their wares “ivory” or using the word “elephant” to avoid automatic filtering. EBay, he said, “does find it difficult to police their own site.”
But at least, he said, “you can’t have people arguing ‘This isn’t elephant ivory.’ ”
The ban, Mr. Allan said, “is the ultimate answer” to that defense.

Despite its limitations, conservation groups – including the one that authored the report – applauded eBay's move.

“IFAW congratulates eBay on this very important step to protect elephants. With these findings and eBay’s leadership, there is no doubt left that all Internet dealers need to take responsibility for their impact on endangered species by enacting and enforcing a ban on all online wildlife trade. eBay has set the standard for protecting elephants, now governments and other online dealers need to follow their example,” said Barbara Cartwright, IFAW Campaigns Manager.

Also hailing eBay's decision was the Humane Society of the United States.

Each year, more than 20,000 elephants are slaughtered for their tusks, part of a black market that the IFAW says rivals the trade in illegal drugs and weapons. In addition to pushing the animals to the brink of extinction in many countries, the poaching has also had the effect of elephant species adapting by evolving smaller tusks.

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