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LONDON (Reuters) - The elephant, the world's largest land mammal, is being threatened with global extinction by a "rampant trade" in ivory on the eBay online auction site, animal welfare campaigners said on Tuesday.
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said it had conducted a survey in Britain, Australia, China, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Canada and the United States and tracked more than 2,200 elephant ivory items listed on eBay websites.
It found more than 90 percent of the listings breached even eBay's own wildlife policies.
International wildlife trade laws differ from country to country and are often complex, but according to the IFAW in general it is illegal to sell carved or uncarved ivory unless it is antique and accompanied by a proof of age certificate.
The Fund says the only way to protect elephants from poachers is to shut down the markets where illegal ivory can easily be passed off as antique.
"As the world's largest online shop window, eBay has a special responsibility to lead the way by banning ivory from their sites, said Robbie Marsland, IFAW's British director.
"Only a global ban on all ivory sales will remove the cover under which this criminal activity currently operates and as a result, seriously help to decrease illegal trade and the cruel and unnecessary slaughter of elephants."
Gareth Streeter, a spokesman for eBay in London, said in a statement the Web site operated policies to "restrict the sale of ivory in accordance with existing UK and international law.
"We have had a number of positive and fruitful discussions with the IFAW about how we can work together to ensure that our policies are effectively enforced, and we are committed to working with them to tackle the problem of illegal ivory sales," he said.
Marsland urged eBay to ban all trade in ivory.
"Elephants are facing extinction, in part because of Internet ivory trade. It is time for action," he said.