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Rakuten and Ivory: Success for Elephants

In a major victory for elephants Rakuten Ichiba, Japan’s largest e-commerce company, ceased ivory sales on July 1, 2017. Starting in 2014, EIA led a campaign calling on Rakuten to end its sales of elephant ivory. Japan has one of the world’s largest domestic ivory markets, and Rakuten was once Japan’s leading online retailer of ivory products. A 2014 EIA investigation found that Rakuten’s website supported more than 28,000 ads for elephant ivory items and offered a range of ivory products for sale including whole tusks and musical instrument accessories, though the vast majority of ivory products were hanko name seals.

Despite a landmark decision at CITES CoP17 in 2016 to close down domestic ivory markets, the Government of Japan has refused to ban ivory sales or acknowledge the role Japan plays in the illegal ivory trade and poaching of elephants. Instead, private sector companies like Rakuten have stepped up and taken matters into their own hands to protect elephants. Rakuten’s laudable decision to ban ivory sales demonstrates the important role that Japanese industry can play in the fight to save the world’s elephants.

Related Resources

Learn more about Rakuten’s decision to cease ivory sales by reading EIA’s press release and associated blog post

Check out Blood e-Commerce, our 2014 report on Rakuten’s ivory sales

Read about Japan’s domestic ivory market and how it contributes to elephant poaching and illegal trade in two of our earlier reports: Japan’s Illegal Ivory Trade (2015) and The Dirty Secrets of Japan’s Illegal Ivory Trade (2016)

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