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March 24, 2016

NGO Coalition Presses SoftBank to Stop Yahoo! Japan’s Elephant Ivory Sales

Humane Society International, Environmental Investigation Agency, WildAid, International Fund for Animal Welfare

  • Poster urging Yahoo! Japan and SoftBank to stop selling elephant ivory online. Environmental Investigation Agency

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.

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.”

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.”

Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency, 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.”

Avaaz launched a petition appealing to Yahoo! and Yahoo! Japan’s CEOs to stop ivory sales on all platforms. You can add your name to the list of more than 1.3 million supporting this effort. Sign the petition here

Media Contacts:

HSI: Raúl Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org, 301-721-6440 

EIA: Maggie Dewane, mdewane@eia-global.org, (202) 483-6621

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