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Caribbean Conservation Corporation Newsletter

Protecting Sea Turtles and their Habitats since 1959

inter 2000

Internet creates new market for illegal endangered species products

ate last year, CCC was alerted by several of its members and colleagues that products made from endangered sea turtles were being illegally auc- tioned and sold on eBay, the largest Internet auction site. In January, CCC staff members investigated these allegations and were shocked at what they found. A simple site search turned up several dozen items made from the shell of endangered hawksbill turtles (commonly called “tortoise shell”). All of these items, including jewelry, guitar picks, cigarette cases and other decorative orna- ments, were being sold through at least 30 separate eBay auctions. And every day scores

of additional illegal products were added to the list. Items being auctioned included an entire hawksbill shell ("listed as a Rare Turtle and Head") and raw, “unworked” hawksbill shell, with bidding reaching several hundred dollars.

More than sea turtles

A further search of the eBay site found that the sale of endangered animal parts did not stop with sea turtles. CCC easily found auctions for genuine leopard skin coats and rugs, taxidermied migratory birds, and a Siberian bear skin rug (“with claws”). The site also contained scores of el- ephant ivory items. All of these items being traded on-line were in violation of the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). And contrary to initial claims by eBay, most of the

30 pieces of jewelry, shells and other products made from endangered were found for sale on an Internet auction site.

products are illegal even if sellers acquired them prior to the passage of the ESA.

Most scientists agree that the hawksbill turtle is criti- cally endangered around the world — having suffered an 80% decline worldwide during the last hundred or so years. According to a 1999 research report (Chelonian Conserva- tion and Biology (3)2:177-184 ) on the worldwide status of

see Endangered Species Market on page 6

In

Tortuguero

this

Turtle Season

issue:

Update

5

CCC to Oppose Re-Opening Hawksbill Trade

6

Rescued Green Turtle Survives to Nest

8

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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