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Yahoo says it doesnt condone poaching but 12 tons of ivory was sold with the help of Yahoo Japan.
Yahoo says it doesnt condone poaching but 12 tons of ivory was sold with the help of Yahoo Japan. (Credit Greg Sandoval)

Who doesn’t get it by now that people across the planet love elephants? So, what company would ever want its brand connected to the senseless slaughter of these animals?

Yahoo Japan apparently doesn’t mind. An activists group called Avaaz says the company, a joint venture between Yahoo and Softbank, saw its auction sites sell an estimated 12 million tons of elephant tusks and fashion items made from ivory between 2012 and 2014. Now, Avaaz has gathered more than 1 million signatures calling on Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer and Yahoo Japan head Manabu Miyasaka to “urgently stop all ivory sales from sites/platforms” it owns.

Avaaz charges that at any one time, thousands of ivory products are advertised on Yahoo Japan. In a response published in The Guardian, the company noted that it prohibits the sale of ivory products created after an international sales ban went into effect in 1989. The problem with that: many tusks and ivory items possess no markings or records to identify when they were made. What Avaaz and animal activists want is for Yahoo Japan to ban all ivory sales.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

In America, Yahoo suggested that, on this issue, its hands are tied. “We in no way condone the sale of products made with ivory obtained from any animal at risk of extinction,” Yahoo said in a statement sent by a spokeswoman to Geekwire. “Yahoo does not accept ads for ivory under our existing policies. Yahoo is an investor in Yahoo Japan and does not have controlling ownership. As such, Yahoo Japan determines their own policies.”

Be that as it may, Yahoo still shares in the profits generated by Yahoo Japan and therefore benefits indirectly from the ivory sales. In this way, Yahoo is out of step with competitors.  Google, Facebook and eBay have teamed up to fight ivory sales.

Which brings us back to the main issue: the elephant, the rhino, the cheetah and scores of other animals are disappearing from the wild. Poaching and sport hunting are big contributors but so is the diminishing amount of habitat. Together this is leading to enormous losses.

Tanzania’s elephant population is supposedly one of the continent’s largest but the government reported last year the number of elephants there fell from 109,051 in 2009 to 43,330 in 2014. That means, during a five-year period, the country’s elephant population was reduced by nearly two-thirds.

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