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Today, 32 environmental and conservation organizations appealed to Yahoo! Japan, the world largest internet ivory seller, and its major shareholder SoftBank, to halt all elephant ivory sales on Yahoo! Japan’s shopping and auctions sites.

An open letter addressed to SoftBank and Yahoo! Japan executives, Masayoshi Son and Nikesh Arora, urges the companies to act now to protect elephants.

Ivory for sale. (Photo Credit: Craig R. Sholley)

Ivory for sale. (Photo Credit: Craig R. Sholley)

More than 30,000 elephants are being killed each year for their ivory, fueling a poaching crisis in many African countries. To combat this crisis and protect elephants, major ivory markets including the United States, China, and Hong Kong have committed to taking steps to ban domestic ivory trade. Internet retailers Google, Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba have already banned ivory sales on their platforms.

SoftBank, with its 43 percent share of Yahoo! Japan, is uniquely positioned to ensure that Yahoo! Japan acts in a socially and environmentally responsible manner and bans the advertisement and sale of all elephant products. The coalition’s appeal highlights SoftBank’s corporate social responsibility and environmental commitments, including its central commitment “to protecting the earth for future generations.”

The coalition writes that “Yahoo! Japan’s auction and online shopping sites are a major distribution channel for the sale of ivory in Japan, much of which is illegal. The scale of ivory sales of dubious origin on Yahoo! Japan’s shopping and auction sites is immense and growing.”

African Wildlife Foundation’s CEO, Dr. Patrick Bergin, said, “Many African nations are struggling to get poaching under control. We need different stakeholders in the East to help shut down the ivory trade rather than perpetuate it. By allowing Yahoo! Japan to serve as an online marketplace for ivory, Softbank is essentially complicit in the slaughter of Africa’s elephants. We urge them to make Yahoo! Japan an ivory-free site and help promote the protection of our dearest species.”

Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), said, “We appeal to SoftBank leaders Masayoshi Son and Nikesh Arora to protect the elephants for future generations by banning ivory trade on Yahoo! Japan. SoftBank’s decision is vital to protect Africa’s elephants from being wiped out by ivory poachers.”

WildAid CEO Peter Knights said, “If the governments of China, Hong Kong and the U.S. can announce an end to ivory sales then so should Yahoo! Japan instead of enabling the poaching of elephants in Africa.”

Grace Gabriel, the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Asia Regional Director, said, “Many Asian e-commerce companies—like Alibaba, Taobao, and Tencent—are changing their practices in order to help solve the poaching crisis. We need Yahoo! Japan to join these industry leaders and become a friend to wildlife.”

Iris Ho, wildlife program manager at Humane Society International, said, “While key ivory consuming nations like China and the United States have committed to end their role in the ivory trade and leading companies like Google and Amazon have banned ivory product sales, Yahoo! Japan and the Government of Japan insist on being outliers and continue to stimulate the demand for ivory products. We hope they will soon join the ranks of corporations and nations dedicated to protecting the world’s elephants.”

(This article originally appeared on AWF. It has been reprinted here with permission.)

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