Sunday 31 January 2016

Yahoo Japan defends online ivory trade

Petition signed by over 1 million people calls on company to halt ‘appalling’ trade estimated at 12m tonnes in recent years

Wednesday 27 January 2016 12.05 GMTLast modified on Wednesday 27 January 201612.14 GMT

Japan has defended its online trade in ivory amid mounting pressure calling on the company to stop selling thousands of products on its auction site.

The company sold an estimated 12 tonnes of elephant tusks and fashioned pieces of ivory on its Japanese auction site between 2012 and 2014, prompting the activist network Avaaz to launch a petition that has attracted more than 1m signatures.

Referring to the trade as Yahoo’s “bloody secret”, the petition calls on the chief executive of the company, Marissa Mayer, and Japanese head, Manabu Miyasaka, to “urgently stop all ivory sales from sites/platforms in Japan and all other markets”.

“As global citizens, we are appalled that you allow ivory to be sold … fuelling elephant extinction,” the petition says.

On Wednesday, the company defended the practice, insisting that it prohibited the sale of raw ivory and ivory products that violates a 1989 trade ban.

The firm said its auction site permitted only the sale of items that were produced before the ban went into effect. “Since there is a chance some sales may be illegal we are strengthening our policies. If we find a sale was illegal we cancel it straight away,” Takako Kaminaga, a Yahoo Japan spokeswoman, said. “We ‘patrol’ 24 hours a day.”

Yahoo Japan is a joint-venture between Yahoo and the Japanese telecoms firm SoftBank. SoftBank said it had no comment.

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