Craigslist Has Become a Big Problem for Elephants

A joint report released this week by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has brought the disheartening news that the trade in ivory is alive and well on Craigslist. The report found hundreds of classified ads that are estimated to be worth millions.

For the report, Elephant vs. Mouse: An Investigation of the Ivory Trade on Craigslist, they investigated the site because its such major source of online ads, with over 80 million postings added and 50 billion page-views monthly. It also comes with less accountability than true ecommerce or auction sites where transactions are monitored.

According to IFAW, investigators collected data from 28 of more than 420 geographic Craigslist sub-sites during a single week (March 16-20) and found ivory, elephant skin and other related items being sold.

In total, they tracked 522 postings offering 615 items with a combined list price of nearly $1.5 million. Using those numbers would mean for the whole year there are over 6,600 items on those sub-sites alone, worth more than $15 million.

“This important investigation shows that ivory markets are still open and prevalent in the U.S.,” said John Calvelli, WCS executive vice president for public affairs and director of the 96 Elephants campaign. “WCS and 96 Elephants are focused on stopping the killing, stopping the trafficking, and stopping the demand, and we are hopeful that this report will shed light on the need to close domestic ivory markets.”

Despite restrictions on ivory sales and efforts in the U.S. to close down markets for ivory, this and previous reports show there’s still a thriving market that continues to put the future of elephants at risk.

Between 2010 and 2012 alone, experts estimate that more than 100,000 elephants were slaughtered, with an average of one elephant killed every 15 minutes, every day, for three full years. At this rate, some believe they could disappear entirely within a decade if drastic action isn’t taken to stop the slaughter and end the demand that’s perpetuating it.

A number of ecommerce sites, including Etsy and eBay, have taken steps to address this issue. But loopholes in laws regulating ivory products and the lack of oversight on the Internet has made it difficult to track sales.

However, IFAW and WCS note in the report that if Craigslist is a big part of the problem, it can also be a big part of the solution.

Craigslist already had a policy banning the sale of animal parts, but it was buried in the fine print. According to IFAW, the organizations asked the site’s CEO Jim Buckmaster to address the issue. The site has since updated its policy to clearly state that it bans “ivory; endangered, imperiled and/or protected species and any parts thereof.”

Peter LaFontaine, campaigns officer for IFAW, called it a step in the right direction, but even with the change, there’s still the matter of enforcing the policy.

IFAW and WCS now hope that the site will follow in the steps of others that have worked with law enforcement to crack down on sales, particularly those that have used software to spot and remove illegal postings.

For more info on efforts to get Craigslist to step up for elephants and other imperiled species, visit IFAW and WCS.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Angela K.
Angela K4 years ago

Please support also this 2 IMPORTANT campaigns:

Melania Padilla
Melania P4 years ago

F****! First they sell dogs and there are stories of dogs being abused by buyers... And not this? Aggrrrrr

Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

Online shopping never does any good to animals, be it pets or endangered species.

boyd hore
boyd hore4 years ago


Dave C.
David C4 years ago

Dave C.
David C4 years ago


Len Couture
Len Couture4 years ago

Some genius hacker should come up with a super virus to infiltrate Craiglist's to show our displeasure with their irresponsibility. If you get them where it hurts, maybe then they'll lister

Manuela C.
Manuela C4 years ago


Sen Senz
Sayenne H4 years ago

Never used it, never will. Elephants are very sensitive intelligent animals.