Two miniature sculptures sold on eBay in December 2020: a tiny egg with a chick hatching through the shell, and an intricately carved man in traditional Japanese dress with a rat perched on his shoulder. The egg sold for $195 and the figure for $1,345. But there’s a problem. Both objects are made from a yellowish-white material that has crisscrossing patterns characteristic of elephant ivory — a banned item on eBay.
“Yes, both are elephant ivory,” David Roberts, a wildlife trade expert and academic at Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) in Kent, U.K., told Mongabay in an email after reviewing the listings.