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Elephants ready to party as eBay ban approaches

Cyber barter site is set to put into effect a worldwide ban on ivory products on Jan. 1, a move animal rights advocates hope will slow the illegal trade in wildlife species and products online.

What with a deepening global recession it's been pretty much a lousy 2008 for most folks, but it's closing on a very good note--if you happen to be an elephant, that is.

Come January 1, eBay's worldwide ban on ivory products goes into effect, a move that animal rights advocates hope will help protect elephant populations around the world.

The proliferation in the illegal trade of wildlife species has been aided by the use of the Internet. In a recent report (PDF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare found that about two-thirds of the global online trade in protected wildlife takes place on eBay's platform. The group said that poachers kill more than 2,000 elephants in Africa and Asia annually to meet demand for ivory products.

The sale of elephant ivory has been illegal since 1989 (although there are certain exceptions to the prohibition).

In a statement, Jack Christin, senior regulatory counsel for eBay had this to say:

"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. We appreciate the support from the IFAW in assisting us and we look forward to continuing to work with them on the implementation of the global ban. Like the IFAW, ultimately we feel this is the best way to protect the endangered and protected species from which a significant portion of ivory products are derived."