London, Jan 1 (ANI): The internet auction site eBay has banned the sale of virtually all ivory products from its website after coming under intense pressure from conservationists who accused the site of acting as a major black market source for forbidden elephant tusks.
According to a report in The Independent, the ban will also cover antique jewellery created before the international trade ban came into effect in 1989.
Now, only pianos with ivory keys and wood furniture with small amounts of ivory inlay made before 1900 will be allowed to be sold on the website.
The online auctioneer instigated a limited ban on ivory sales in 2007, stopping all cross-border sales, but it suffered a major consumer backlash in October when it emerged that two-thirds of all online ivory sales in the US were made through its website.
An investigation by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) revealed that over a period of six weeks, more than 7,000 items of ivory were being sold online, with 63 per cent of the items sold through eBay.
The US had a 70 per cent market share, 10 times that of the UK, the next largest market.
In America, the transactions had an advertised value of 3.8 million dollars, and sales of about 460,000 on eBay provided the site with commission of at least 20,000 dollars.
In Britain, 551 items of ivory were found online, 289 of which came from eBay.
China was the next largest online market, although it remains the biggest importer of both black market and legitimate ivory bought at recent one-off sales held under UN auspices in Africa.
"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," said a spokesman for eBay.
"We appreciate the support from the IFAW and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the implementation of the global ban," he added.
Conservationists estimate up to 20,000 elephants are slaughtered for their tusks every year despite the international trade ban on ivory products introduced in 1989.
According to Robbie Marsland, director of IFAW UK, "Internet dealers need to take responsibility for their impact on endangered species by enacting and enforcing a ban on all online wildlife trade." (ANI)