Craigslist A Safehaven For The Ivory Trade, Offers Millions Of Dollars In Products Made From Ivory

Millions of dollars of products are sold on Craigslist each year. This week, the Apple Watch began selling for $1,000. That's not the only types of products sold on Craigslist, as the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) determined during the week of March 16–20, when they found over $1.5 million in products for sale.

Although animal parts are illegal for sale on Craigslist, the IFAW and WCS found 522 postings, in 28 different cities, listing over 660 items made from ivory tusks, bringing the total value of the products to $1.5 million. Based on a formula of listing 6600 items in a year, it brings the potential value of products sold on Craigslist to over $15 million. San Francisco and Los Angeles were found to have the highest number of products for sale.

The groups contacted Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster to notify him that the products were sold on the site. Craigslist amended its policy to include the ivory products that were being sold. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory tusks, driving the animals towards extinction.

The IFAW said that because of the high demand for the products, the practice of posting the products for sale on Craigslist without any monitoring posed a major threat to the elephants, according to TreeHugger.

"Ivory sales are regulated by a complex web of international, federal and state laws and treaties. While the sale of non-antique/fresh ivory is illegal across the globe, it is still possible to buy anything from a small figurine to a tusk online. Unscrupulous antiques dealers falsely identify ivory from recently killed elephants as antique, and sellers use terms such as 'bone' and 'faux' to sell illegal ivory online. The current legal ivory trade masks a larger, deadlier illegal ivory trade that is not only decimating elephant populations but feeds organized crime and funds terrorism."
One of the recommendations made by the groups was that Craigslist regulate their postings in the same way that Ebay regulated their listings. Currently, Ebay, the largest online marketplace, is one of the few websites that monitors the sale of prohibited items and seeks to prevent the sale. Television is also being used to stop the sale of these products. WCS and 96 Elephants targeted The Antiques Roadshow, a popular PBS show. They asked that the show to stop appraising tusks on the air and educate viewers on the ivory trade, according to WBUR.

The United States abides by the CITES treaty, which prohibits the sale of imported ivory. However, the domestic ivory markets continue to thrive, and the products are sold illegally on Craigslist.

[Photo Credit Getty Images/Oli Scarff]