Born Free helps take down illegal ivory traders on eBay

2 September 2022


We’re working with eBay and other platforms to help end the exploitation of wild animals.

A large elephant with magnificent tusks walks across the African plain

On 6 June 2022, the long-awaited Ivory Act was finally implemented. The Act bans the sale of elephant ivory to, from and within the UK, with limited exemptions. This day also saw the release of our report Are Ivory Sellers Lying Through Their Teeth?, which provided insight into the scope and scale of the online ivory trade in the UK prior to the Ivory Act’s implementation.  The outcome of our follow-up investigation will be published soon.  

In 2021, eBay blocked or removed more than 389,000 items for endangered wildlife like elephants, pangolins and tigers on the platform. Although eBay took the progressive step of banning any ivory items on their website over 10 years ago, ivory items were still being listed on their site in late 2021. Often, these were advertised covertly by using false material descriptions such as “bovine bone” or implicit descriptions such as “carved from a hard white/cream material”.

Following the release of our report, eBay reached out to us, and we shared with them our data on recent ivory listings in the UK, which included now-illegal elephant ivory items. They removed all the listings which had not already been removed by their monitoring team. Most of the removals resulted in warnings; however, there were also several account suspensions. A keyword analysis of the listings also meant that two new phrases were added to their ivory search term list as a result of our findings.

With the trade in ivory now potentially shifting towards the online marketplace following domestic trade bans, it is important for all e-commerce sites to introduce and enforce measures which prevent their platforms from being utilised for illegal trade. The trade in ivory, even if it is genuinely antique, increases the risk to elephant populations by providing cover for the illegal trade in newly poached ivory, and by perpetuating demand. As long as ivory continues to be sold, elephants will be killed.

Although this is a small victory in what is a huge global issue, we hope to continue collaborating with eBay and other platforms to help end the exploitation of wild animals.

Elephants are still being killed in their thousands for their Ivory. You can help by supporting Born Free’s work to save elephants and bring the ivory trade to a permanent end.

Image (c) George Logan