The ‘elephants’ graveyard’ chalk drawing attracts passers-by on Portobello Road.

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Since 2004, IFAW have carried out investigations into the ivory trade in the UK, focusing their attention on eBay, car boot sales, curio shops, flea and antiques markets where, they claim, "worryingly large quantities of ivory items are being sold illegally".

In the much-publicised Elephants On The High Street report of 2004, IFAW were highly critical of the ignorance of traders at some of the UK's best-known antique markets. Portobello Road received a particularly poor press.

Although the Portobello Traders' Association make it clear that their members must be aware of the rules around the items they are selling, the report found some dealers at Portobello unaware of the legislation surrounding the ivory trade and others who encouraged purchasers to flout the law when exporting ivory.

The emotive findings of the report - which largely ignored the input of the legitimate antiques trade - appear to have provided the impetus for the latest publicity stunt.

Robbie Marsland, UK director of IFAW, said: "Because it is extremely difficult to differentiate between old and new - or legal and illegal - ivory, we are urging everyone, everywhere to avoid buying ivory."

Sally Wilkinson, a specialist in antique ivory who trades as Chanticleer Antiques from the Admiral Vernon Arcade in Portobello Road, had not seen the mural but told ATG such statements were most unhelpful to the legitimate antiques trade operating from the famous London market.

Online auction giant eBay have now banned cross-border sales of ivory on all their websites.

The tightening of their ivory policies follows negotiations with IFAW, who produced a report showing that 90 per cent of elephant ivory listings on the website were in breach of even eBay's own wildlife policies.

By Roland Arkell