Yahoo Japan under fire over ivory trading

Activists launch petition against tech giant urging the company to stop online ivory sales across its websites

(Ivy Allen/USFWS)
(Ivy Allen/USFWS)

Yahoo Japan has moved to defend its reputation after being petitioned by more than a million people over allowing ivory to be traded on its auction sites.

Activist website Avaaz has strongly condemned the company for its "bloody secret" of ivory trading and launched a petition against Yahoo Japan.

The movement follows a report from the UK’s Environmental Investigation Agency in December, which found that more than 12 tonnes of elephant tusks and ivory pieces were sold on Yahoo Japan’s auction platforms between 2012 and 2014.

The Avaaz petition calls out Yahoo for not doing more to stop it, and highlights that rival companies Google and Amazon refuse to sell ivory on their platforms.

Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, a Yahoo Japan spokesperson defended the company, saying it only allowed the sale of ivory items that were produced before a 1989 trade ban on ivory came into effect.

"Since there is a chance some sales may be illegal we are strengthening our policies," the spokesperson said.

"If we find a sale was illegal we cancel it straightaway. We ‘patrol’ 24 hours a day."

Yahoo Japan is a joint venture between Yahoo and Japanese telco SoftBank. The petition is directed to Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer and Yahoo Japan CEO Manabu Miyasaka.

"As global citizens, we are appalled that you allow ivory to be sold on your site/platform, fuelling elephant extinction," the petition reads.

"We call on you to urgently stop all ivory sales from sites/platforms in Japan and all other markets."

Yahoo’s reputation over the incident has taken a significant hit on social media, with several celebrities entering the fray. 

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