Internet Giant Google Promotes the Sale of Thousands of Endangered Elephant and Whale Products: Fails to Enforce its Own Policies

Mar 04, 2013, 10:28 ET from Environmental Investigation Agency

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the Environmental Investigation Agency:

Environmentalists today appealed to internet giant Google to remove thousands of ads from its Japanese Shopping site that promote products for sale from endangered whale and elephant species.


The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a non profit group based in Washington, DC and London, UK wrote to Google CEO Larry Page on February 22nd requesting immediate removal of over 1,400 ads that promote whale products and as many as 10,000 ads that promote elephant ivory products on Google Japan's Shopping site. The ads are contrary to Google's own policies. To date, Google has not responded or taken down the ads offering endangered wildlife products for sale.

Google's Shopping site restrictions confirm that: "Elephant ivory - Not Allowed - Google doesn't allow the promotion of elephant ivory" and "Whale products - Not Allowed - Google doesn't allow the promotion of whale products including bones, meat or oil". These restrictions are the same on Google's wholly owned Japanese site.

"Google has laudable policies that prohibit the promotion of endangered wildlife products including whale, dolphin and elephant ivory, but sadly these are not being enforced and that's devastating for whales and elephants," said Allan Thornton, President of the EIA. "While elephants are being mass slaughtered across Africa to produce ivory trinkets it is shocking to discover that Google, with the massive resources it has at its disposal, is failing to enforce its own policies designed to help protect endangered elephants and whales."

This startling discovery comes as 178 nations gather in Thailand for an important meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Those meeting in Bangkok are faced with overwhelming evidence that elephants are being slaughtered by the tens of thousands annually to fuel Asian demand for illegal ivory.

A search for elephant products yields around 10,000 ads on Google Japan's Shopping site promoting elephant ivory for sale. About 80% of the elephant ivory ads are for "hanko," 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.

Clare Perry, EIA's Senior Campaigner, said, "Google Japan Shopping is promoting the sale of a huge variety of products from threatened and endangered whale species.  These range from endangered fin whales killed in Iceland to products taken from animals killed off Taiji, where the infamous dolphin kills featured in the Oscar winning film "The Cove" take place. Google must immediately eliminate all such trade." Other products promoted on the Google Japan Shopping site are from sperm, Bryde's, sei, minke and pilot whales.

The Environmental Investigation Agency is appealing to Google CEO Larry Page to ensure that all Google promotions of ads for whale, dolphin and elephant ivory products on Google Shopping sites are immediately and permanently removed, and that Google remains vigilant in enforcing this policy in the future.

For further information, contact:

Allan Thornton, President, EIA US:

Clare Perry, Whale Campaign Team Leader, EIA UK:, +34 664348821

 Editor's Notes:

  1. Google is one of the world's most successful and valuable technology companies in the world. Google's Shopping sites allow vendors who register with the company to post ads that promote products for sale.
  2. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a non profit environmental group based in Washington, DC and London.
  3. EIA works to protect endangered and threatened species both from commercial or illegal trade in their products.
  4. EIA surveyed Google Japan Shopping site from February 4th to 22nd to analyse approximately 1,400 ads offering whale products for sale and around 10,000 ads offering ivory products for sale.
  5. Google Shopping site policies on endangered species prohibit promotion of whale, dolphin and elephant ivory products and are posted both in English and in Japanese.
  6. See US website:
  7. See Japanese website: 
  8. EIA couriered a letter on February 22nd, 2013 to Google CEO Larry Page, and copied to Google Senior Vice Presidents for Communications and Policy and for Legal Counsel, providing screenshots of Google Japan Shopping site ads promoting both whale and ivory products for sale and requesting immediate action to remove the ads promoting all such products.
  9. To date no response has been received from Google and neither the whale or ivory products have been removed from the Google Japan Shopping site.
  10. Japan is one of the largest consumers of elephant ivory and demand from Japan and China has fuelled intensified poaching. Japan continues to commercially hunt great whales in violation of the international ban on such catches. Japan also allows commercial hunting of numerous threatened and declining dolphin and porpoise species around its coast.


SOURCE Environmental Investigation Agency