Rakuten, an enormous Japanese e-commerce company, has been closely linked with a flourishing trade in elephant ivory and whale meat. According to a report released Tuesday by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Humane Society International, many of the species for sale are vulnerable at best. As the Guardian points out:
Rakuten's website carries more than 28,000 advertisements for elephant ivory and 1,200 for whale products. Many of the whale products originated from species that have been protected since 1986 under the moratorium on commercial whaling established by the International Whaling Commission, the groups said in their Blood E-Commerce report. The species receive the highest level of protection by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which prohibits international trade.
"We call on Rakuten subsidiaries in the U.S., UK, Canada, France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere to urgently press Rakuten headquarters in Japan to ban all ads offering ivory and whale products," said Kitty Block, vice-president of HSI.
Ratuken has major stakes in the websites Buy.com, Play.com, the e-book reader Kobo and is a major shareholder in Pinterest. On its website, the company states, "We are committed to promoting policies which will prevent global warming and protect the environment."
But the recent findings seem to differ with that pledge, say investigators.
"Rakuten's ads are effectively as deadly as giving bullets to elephant poachers and harpoons to whalers," said EIA's president, Allan Thornton. "[It] must act immediately to ban all ads selling elephant and whale products, or its global brand will be irrevocably tainted with the ongoing mass slaughter of these species."