Online activists are demanding Yahoo to stop the sale of ivory products on its websites in Japan as they blame the Internet company for aiding the near-extinction of elephants.

The online activism network Avaaz, which has made a name for itself after exposing websites involved in illegal ivory trade such as Craigslist, has garnered more than 1 million signatures for the online petition that they launched.

Through the campaign, Avaaz is now appealing to the tech giant to bring an end to the "deadly" ivory trade that takes place through Yahoo Japan's auction site. Yahoo Japan is a company independent of Yahoo, but the latter, currently based in Sunnyvale, California, owns a 35 percent stake in the business.

Avaaz seems to be targeting Yahoo in order to create maximum impact at a time when the company's leadership in a crucial state. Just recently, media reports revealed that the company has refused potential buyers of its core internet businesses.

The campaign alludes Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in the same breath as Yahoo Japan's CEO Manabu Miyasaka, as well as other online companies complicit to the illegal ivory trade.

"The ivory trade is pushing elephants to the edge of extinction, and Yahoo is making a killing from trinket sales in Japan," wrote the activist group. "But right now we have a chance to end this corporate complicity."

Ivory Trafficking In Japan And Other Asian Countries

The illegal ivory trade may seem like something you can only find at the seediest and darkest corners of the Internet, but a huge amount of these tusks are actually being sold on large consumer websites to people who are unaware of where the items came from.

The United Nations said around 100 elephants are slaughtered every day by poachers who take part in ivory trafficking. The large demand for ivory comes from Japan, China and other countries in Asia where the material is viewed as a traditional symbol for status and wealth.

Advocacy group Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) carried out an inquiry into Yahoo Japan's auction site. The group discovered that between 2012 and 2014, more than 12 tons of ivory trinkets and whole tusks were sold through the website. This trade was worth $7 million in sales, an amount which Yahoo would take a small transaction and listing fee.

"Yahoo is a household name, an internet giant, and it's making essentially blood money off the back of elephants being killed," said Bert Wander, the campaign director for Avaaz.

Wander added that the Internet company could easily do the world a favor by helping conserve these animals.

Yahoo's Response

Yahoo denied the allegations through a statement, and said that the company understands the concerns raised by the campaign.

"Yahoo, Inc. does not accept ads for ivory under our existing policies (Live Animals & Endangered Species - Yahoo Product Ads prohibits the sale of live animals as well as products obtained from or the actual sale of endangered or threatened species.)," the company said.

Photo : William Warby | Flickr

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