Elephant ivory continues to be disguised and sold on eBay

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Research from the University of Kent's Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) has found that elephant ivory is still being sold on the online marketplace eBay, despite its 10-year-old policy banning the trade in ivory.

The trafficking of wildlife over the internet continues to be a problem, with the detection of illegal activity being challenging. Despite efforts of law enforcement, the demand for illegal wildlife products online has continued to increase. In some cases vendors have adopted the use of 'code words' to disguise the sale of illicit items.

Sofia Venturini and Dr. David Roberts of DICE investigated the misrepresentation of materials in advertisement descriptions of netsuke being sold on eBay UK. Netsuke are carved objects, attached to the cord of the Japanese kimono and are often made of elephant .

A comparison was made between the materials declared by the vendors and the authors' identification based on the images in the advertisements. As it was not ethically desirable to obtain the physical items for analysis, the researchers verified authentic elephant ivory by analyzing the presence of Schreger lines (a unique pattern found in elephant ivory).

The researchers found that authentic elephant ivory was most frequently described as bone in listings of netsuke. Further, by returning a month later they found that only a small percentage (between 1.3% and 6.9%) of these netsuke made of had been removed by eBay. Over half had been sold, while among the items that remained unsold, half were relisted. If eBay was effectively enforcing its policy (introduced in 2008) on ivory, these items would have been removed.

Dr. Roberts said: "Despite eBay's strict policy on Animal and Wildlife Products, there is still an ongoing trade in ivory, mostly concealed as other non-restricted materials. While detecting illegal sales of ivory items can be particularly difficult as, for example, the word 'ivory' can be used to describe a color, companies like eBay have the resources and data that could be mobilized to tackle the challenge of illegal trade."

More information: Sofia Venturini et al, Disguising Elephant Ivory as Other Materials in the Online Trade, Tropical Conservation Science (2020). DOI: 10.1177/1940082920974604

Provided by University of Kent

Citation: Elephant ivory continues to be disguised and sold on eBay (2021, January 4) retrieved 20 April 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2021-01-elephant-ivory-disguised-sold-ebay.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Singapore crushes massive ivory haul on eve of World Elephant Day


Feedback to editors