Humane Society International (HSI) recently exposed the Japanese retailer Rakuten as the world’s largest online marketplace for whale meat and elephant ivory products. Rakuten is an online aggregator that allows you to shop for everything from consumer goods, to e-books, to plane tickets and banking services. This website alone posts over 28,000 advertisements for ivory products and upwards of 1,000 for whale meat. Providing an open, online platform for the sale of these products elicits an effect as deadly as, “giving bullets to elephant poachers and harpoons to whalers,” in the view of Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency.

According to a representative from the Environmental Investigation Agency, Rakuten claims a commitment to policies that work to “protect the environment,”  but continues to place ads that promote the sale of illegal animal products, and even provides a marketplace to buy these items.

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Further investigation into these products by the EIA reveals that the whale products sold through these ads contain levels of mercury up to 1,000 times higher than safe levels for human consumption. Ivory “hankos” name seals, that individuals and companies can use to stamp their name on stationary, are among the site’s topsellers. How novel — giving people the capability to effectively sign their names in the blood of illegally poached elephants across the world…

Rakuten has subsidiaries in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and others in Europe. As of today, HSI has made a call for these subsidiaries to push back against Rakuten’s Japanese headquarters and ban all ads that promote the sale of ivory and whale products.

How You Can Help

Help spread the word by passing this along or by submitting a complaint to the U.S. subsidiary, BuyServices Inc., by clicking here for their contact information. You can also sign this petition from HSI and the EIA urging Rakuten to stop selling ivory and whale and dolphin meat.

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