Now here’s a great way to begin the new year. Beginning January 1, 2009, online auction site eBay has banned ivory products on its site. Animal activists around the world have long condemned eBay for acting as a major black market source for forbidden elephant tusks. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently discovered that approximately two-thirds of the worldwide online trade in protected wildlife takes place on eBay, a major online auction and shopping Web site.


ivoryIFAW said that poachers take the lives of more than 20,000 elephants in Africa and Asia each year to meet the high demand for ivory products. The sale of elephant ivory has been prohibited since 1989, though there are certain exceptions to the rule.


In a statement, Jack Christin, senior regulatory counsel for eBay said, “Due to the unique nature of eBay’s global online marketplace and the complexity surrounding the sale of ivory, we decided to ban the sale of ivory on eBay. We appreciate the support from the IFAW in assisting us and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the implementation of the global ban.


“Like the IFAW, ultimately we feel this is the best way to protect the endangered and protected species from which a significant portion of ivory products are derived.”


The ban will also cover antique jewelry created before the international trade ban came into effect in 1989. Only pianos with ivory keys and wood furniture with small amounts of ivory inlay made before 1900 will be allowed to be sold.


An investigation by IFAW revealed that over a period of six weeks, more than 7,000 items of ivory were being sold online, with 63 percent of the items sold through eBay. The US had a 70 percent market share — 10 times that of the UK, the next largest market. In the US, the transactions had an advertised value of $3.8 million (£2.6 million), and sales of about $460,000 on eBay provided the site with commission of at least $20,000.


“Internet dealers need to take responsibility for their impact on endangered species by enacting and enforcing a ban on all online wildlife trade,” said Robbie Marsland, director of IFAW UK.


Please take a moment to thank eBay for making the compassionate choice.