Japanese giant Internet retailer, Rakuten, on July 6, 2017, announced that it was banning the sale of ivory on its site with trading to be phased out over the next month.
The move, which came following mounting international criticism of the trade and sweeping public support for a policy change — whereby over 36,500 individuals sent letters to Rakuten’s president urging the closure of the platform’s ivory sales as part of an AWF demand reduction campaign.
AWF commends the e-commerce retailer for its commitment to protecting elephants, and celebrates this big win for conservation organizations fighting to combat illegal wildlife trade. Rakuten's new policy is also anticipated to have a significant impact on the market.
"If we do not stop the demand for ivory, we will witness the extinction of elephants in a few decades. The announcement by Rakuten is a good gesture to ending illegal wildlife trade and protecting these iconic species, and we urge other online ivory retailers to follow suit," said Kaddu Sebunya, African Wildlife Foundation President.
There has been a surging demand for ivory over the past ten years. The Great Elephant Census released in September 2016 revealed a 30 percent decline in Africa's savanna elephant population between 2007 and 2014. Poaching was identified as the predominant cause of this dramatic loss. Additionally, more than 20 tons of poached elephant ivory, prized as "white gold" in parts of Asia and China, as well as the United States, was seized globally in 2016.
Other Internet retailers like Google, Amazon.com, Alibaba, and eBay, have also banned ivory sales on all their sites globally.
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