|Hawaii (bottom left) is really far |
away from the mainland!
|Ohia trees in Native Hawaiian Forest.|
Living in Hawaii, I am very lucky that I get to see animals and plants that may be extinct in the next 10-20 years. These opportunities will only be there for so long. I guess it is a little like making sure each visit with an elderly grandmother counts - I know that time is running out for these species, so I try to treasure what little is left.
The top, green snail shell is from a snail from Papua New Guinea. The bottom snail is an Oahu snail. Both are endangered species, which makes them illegal to sell.
You can click here and here to see the actual listings (at least until the end of the auction, in two hours).
I contacted ebay's customer support four days ago (on Saturday, March 31st), but it doesn't look like they've done anything, since the shells are still for sale. I also reached out to the greater twitter community and to people on facebook, to see if more people could make a bigger difference. Some of these people contacted the US Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer, who has since gotten back to them with this information:
Oahu Tree Snails (the entire genus Achatinella) were listed as endangered in 1981, pursuant to the U.S. law, referred to as the Endangered Species Act. As such it is prohibited (i.e. illegal) to sell or offer to sell them in interstate or foreign commerce. Offering to sell them over the internet, which is literally, the world-wide web, is automatically an offer in interstate and foreign commerce.
The State of Hawaii also considers the entire genus of Achatinella as both "Endangered" and as "Indigenous Wildlife" pursuant to State of Hawaii law [see Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 13, Subtitle 5, Part 2, Chapter 124]. The State of Hawaii prohibits their sale and even mere possession. Please feel free to forward more information like below. We investigate and depending on circumstances, attempt to work with the Hawaii Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement (DOCARE) to investigate matters like this.
He also writes that a special agent is now investigating this issue, which is great.
|Ebay no longer allows the sale of ivory or endangered |
species, but reporting sales of another endangered species
(a tree snail) has gotten no response (so far).
I realize that in the grand scheme of tree snail conservation, this is probably small peanuts. One or two snail shells for sale on eBay is a drop in the bucket compared to habitat loss and invasive species predation. Here's the thing that really gets me: I'm a dolphin and whale biologist. I know that if an endangered dolphin or whale head for sale as a "craft item," people would be rioting in the streets.
But, to many people, it's just a snail. I don't think that's fair. These snails are amazing - their species deserves to exist just as much as a dolphin. We should afford them the same outrage when people exploit them.
|Just as worthy as a dolphin (look at those cute little eye-stalks).|
Update (4/8/2012): I wanted to add that I did originally contact the International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW), who were one of the ones responsible originally for getting eBay to stop selling ivory. They were really great about getting back to me quickly. Here's an excerpt from the second email I got from them, after I let them know that I had been able to contact law enforcement: