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Amazon.com is Selling Thousands of Ivory Items as the Slaughter of Africa’s Elephants Intensifies

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Amazon.com has thousands of ads for elephant ivory on its Japanese website despite such sales being banned under Amazon’s policies designed to protect endangered species. This follows last week’s revelation that Google was allowing similar illicit sale of ivory products by its Google Japan Shopping site.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non profit group based in Washington, DC and London, UK, discovered thousands of ivory products for sale on Amazon’s wholly owned Japanese website even though Amazon.com bans the sale of all ivory products.

This shocking discovery comes as 178 nations meet in Bangkok this week for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The gathered nations have struggled to find ways to counter the mass slaughter of elephants across much of Africa for their ivory tusks to supply the burgeoning demand in Asia, particularly Japan and China.

Allan Thornton, EIA’s President said today that “Amazon.com has turned a blind eye to the sale of thousands of ivory products on its Japanese website, further endangering Africa’s already devastated elephant populations. Like Google, Amazon.com has ignored its laudable policies to protect endangered species and turned its back on the massacre of Africa’s elephants. How many more elephants have been killed as a result?”

A letter from the EIA President was couriered to the office of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos on February 22nd with copies of screenshots showing dozens of the thousands of ivory ads displayed on Amazon Japan. Additional information and weblinks to the ivory products were also provided directly to Amazon Japan. Some ivory products were removed but around 3,000 ads still offer ivory for sale.

Most of the Amazon Japan ivory ads are for “hanko,” which are Japanese name seals used to affix signatures to documents. Hanko sales, a major demand driver for elephant ivory, have contributed to the wide-scale resumption of elephant poaching across Africa. An estimated 35,000 African elephants are now being illegally killed for their tusks each year; however, some scientists believe the numbers are much higher.

Last year EIA and Humane Society International (HSI) revealed how Amazon.com’s Japanese website was selling over 140 whale products, which were removed immediately when EIA and HSI informed Amazon.com of the whale ads. Within two weeks Amazon.com banned the sale of all whale and dolphin products on its websites worldwide.

Amazon.com’s policy specifically states that “Products containing ivory from animals” are prohibited under “Examples of Prohibited Listings.”

The EIA is appealing to Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos to ensure that all Amazon.com promotions of ads for elephant ivory products on its sites are immediately and permanently removed, and that Amazon.com remains vigilant in monitoring and enforcing this policy in the future.

For further information, contact:
Allan Thornton, President, EIA-US: allanthornton@eia-global.org
Lisa Handy, Senior Policy Adviser, EIA-US: lisahandy@eia-global.org

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