Seized ivory that was crushed. Photo by: IFAW
I just read a shocking article on Mongabay.com, a top flight environmental website run by activist Rhett Butler. This article was written by writer Jeremy Hance.
The article was about how Craigslist is aiding and abetting the slaughter of something like 96 elephants a day (!) by allowing people to sell their ivory — pre-ban or otherwise — on Craigslist. The article makes this point most tellingly:
“As it has become more difficult to buy illegal ivory from slaughtered elephants on places like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.com, traders and buyers in the U.S. have turned to another venue: Craigslist…
This important investigation shows that ivory markets are still open and prevalent in the U.S.,” said John Calvelli, executive vice president for public affairs for WCS and the director of the 96 Elephants campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the fact that around 96 elephants are killed everyday in Africa for their tusks. “We are hopeful that this report will shed light on the need to close domestic ivory markets.” (Emphasis mine.)
The problem with EVEN PRE-BAN IVORY (!) is that evil sellers are able to skirt the international prohibition on the ivory trade by easily claiming that ivory — that is the product of current elephant poaching — is simply pre-ban. It’s that easy and it’s a loophole as big as a (dead) elephant. It’s not like Craigslist practices any administrative oversight on their For Sale pages.
What you can do?: Like me, just go to a city’s Craigslist website, do a quick search on the For Sale page for “ivory” and then flag each goddamned infuriating ivory trinket, bauble, necklace, carved figurine, SWORD or whatever!, as “prohibited.” Craigslist will then remove such flagged posts within a few minutes.
Remember: it has been demonstrated that even sales of pre-ban ivory only props up the CURRENT IVORY trade and elephant slaughter.
There is no reliable way to tell pre-ban from post-ban ivory, or a real antique from a fake — in any country. “It’s not like you walk into a store and find someone selling cocaine, which is illegal on its face,” said Edward Grace, deputy assistant director for law enforcement at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In Chinese and U.S. shops alike, consumers simply assume that ivory trinkets are legal, and there is no way for law enforcement to prove that any particular item was made after 1989 [the year of the international ban]. Mary Rice, executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency, says there’s only one real solution: “We need to learn from history and permanently shut down all ivory trade — international and domestic.” (Emphasis mine.)