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Google Runs 10,000 Ivory Ads in Japan, Conservation Group Says

Mar 05, 2013 01:52 PM EST
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elephant ivory poaching
Thursday the United Nations Security Council renewed a host of sanctions against the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), drawing praise from conservation groups such as the World Wildlife Fund who contend that armed groups and the flow of illegal weapons in the DRC are enabling wildlife crime.
(Photo : © Naftali Honig, PALF - Project for the Application of Law for Fauna/ Wildlife Conservation Society )

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says more than 10,000 ads promoting ivory products are running on Google's Japanese shopping site, further encouraging the poaching of elephants which is leading to them becoming slowly extinct.

Illegal ivory tusks are being sold and purchased online via various Internet forums and shopping websites worldwide with increasing frequency, including Internet giant Google, according to activists.

Wildlife groups attending the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Bangkok this week are calling on global law enforcement agencies to take action.

A new study published on PLOS ONE found that there has been a 62 percent decline in the number of African forest elephants in Central Africa over the past 10 years. The study included more than 60 scientists who worked on the research between 2002 and 2011. 

About 80 percent of the ads are for "hanko," small wooden stamps widely used in Japan to affix signature seals to official documents. The rest are carvings and other small objects. Hanko are used for everything from renting a house to opening a bank account. The stamps are legal and typically inlaid with ivory lettering.

Google said in an emailed response to The Associated Press, "Ads for products obtained from endangered or threatened species are not allowed on Google. As soon as we detect ads that violate our advertising policies, we remove them."

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW ) conducted an investigation in 2012 and found 17,847 ivory products listed on 13 websites in China, according to the Associated Press. The IFAW says illegal ivory trading online is also an issue in the U.S., including on eBay, and in European countries, predominantly nations with colonial links to Africa.

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