Everyone knows that tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year for ivory, right? So why is the Japanese-based Internet company Rakuten, the sixth largest e-commerce company in the world, selling items made from ivory? That’s what founder and CEO of Kenya’s Save the Elephants, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, wants to know.
In a press release published this week, Douglas-Hamilton appealed to Rakuten, asking them “to immediately cease sales of elephant ivory products during the current poaching epidemic.”
Even Rakuten should be disgusted with itself. In its own published Code of Ethics, it states that it “staunchly rejects any request to engage in illegal or morally questionable activity.” This past April, the company stopped selling whale meat. That’s a start.
Anyone not living under a major Internet company knows that elephant populations are on the decline. We’ve seen the photographs of the mutilated bodies, read about the poisonings, heard the recordings of an elephant just as it was shot and killed by poachers, mourned the loss of Satao, the 45-year-old “great tusker” bull that was killed in June.
So why is any civilized, for-profit organization still selling ivory? Can I use “civilized” and “for-profit” in the same sentence? Maybe not.
The fact remains that without threat from humans, elephants thrived in healthy populations for 50 million years. But if the poaching trend continues, the largest walking animals of our time will be wiped off the planet in the next decade.
If you shop Rakuten, stop. If you don’t, sign this petition from the Humane Society International.