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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 94,052
Sponsored by: The Rainforest Site

After facing decimation in the 1980s, a global ban on ivory sales barely saved Africa's elephants from extinction.

Then, in 2008 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreed to unleash stockpiles of ivory in a "one-off" sale to China, and the decision kicked off a surge in demand for the coveted "white gold". Rather than reduce the need for black-market ivory and the poaching that supplies it, China's growing middle class wants more.

And they are willing to pay for it. Soaring prices encourage more poaching and attract the attention of armed rebel groups, corrupt government officials, and international criminal organizations. The profits, in turn, fund other illegal activities elsewhere in the world.

2011 and 2012 were especially lethal years for elephants, smashing previous records for illegal ivory seizures, typically captured en route to China. The trend shows no sign of slowing.

Petition the Chinese Ambassador to the United States to help reverse this bloody path towards extinction.

Sign Here

Dear Ambassador Tiankai:

As long as there is a market for ivory, there will continue to be a demand. Far from reducing demand, the 2008 sale of stockpiles in China has only whetted the world's appetite for additional ivory, driving up prices for this coveted "white gold". Rising prices, in turn, have corrupted government officials and attracted organized crime. And as the New York Times observed, the availability of legally sanctioned ivory has provided the "ideal legal camouflage" for smugglers to launder their illicit goods. And African elephants pay the ultimate price.

In just one example, a recent study published in the scientific journal PLoS One illustrates the consequences for Africa's elephants. According to the research, populations of forest elephants in Central Africa, highly valued for their hard ivory, declined an astonishing 62% over the past ten years, a pace that spells extinction within the next decade.

But the illegal ivory trade is not just a threat to elephants. The increasing scale and sophistication of the poachers and smugglers suggests the involvement of organized crime and militarized rebel organizations with networks spanning national boundaries. These groups threaten stability and peace well beyond the forests and savannas the elephants roam. The tremendous profit made from a shipment of illegal ivory then finances violence elsewhere, much in the same way blood diamonds funded human conflict in past decades.

It remains in China's best interest to see an end to this bloody trade. The 2011 ban on ivory in auction houses and the 2012 ban on online sales both represent positive steps towards this end. Continued seizures, arrests, and prosecutions demonstrate a dedication to cracking down on the illegal trade. Unfortunately, the legal trade is also part of the problem, deceiving consumers into believing their purchases are sanctioned by the state. And a growing middle class further burdens already taxed elephant populations.

As the mounting death toll illustrates, it is not enough to target smugglers and range states alone — destination markets must enforce stricter measures as well. Evidence suggests as much as 50% of the world's ivory is destined for Chinese markets, requiring about 220 tons of raw ivory, or roughly 20,000 elephants, each year.

The current state of affairs suggests three areas for improvement:

  1. Better education for consumers who don't fully comprehend the impact of their purchase. One survey suggests that seven out of ten Chinese consumers believe the ivory is harvested in a sustainable way. If they better understood the consequences for elephants — an early and brutal death — then they could make better purchasing decisions.
  2. Better coordination with range states, sharing law enforcement resources and intelligence to crack down on the criminal networks responsible.
  3. Better regulation culminating in a renewed ban on the sale of ivory in China.

The crisis facing Africa's elephants offers China an opportunity to lead the way, leveraging your growing influence in the world and establishing a model of international cooperation. Without Chinese cooperation and leadership on this matter, African elephants face a dire future, or worse, no future at all.

Petition Signatures

Sep 27, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Sep 27, 2016 Véronique faisy
Sep 26, 2016 Nicole Byers
Sep 26, 2016 Michael D. Nesel Removing elephant tusks for ivory sales should be OUTLAWED !!!!
Sep 26, 2016 Donna Murdoch This makes me furious on a majestic animal and probably for their ridiculous herbal treatments. You don't need an animal's parts for health and wellbeing!!
Sep 26, 2016 penelope teesdale
Sep 26, 2016 Ruben Garcia
Sep 26, 2016 Mary Barrientos
Sep 26, 2016 Linda McKeever
Sep 26, 2016 Glenna Waterman
Sep 26, 2016 Karen Wever
Sep 26, 2016 Barbara Alves
Sep 26, 2016 Marilyn Martin
Sep 26, 2016 Rita de Cassia Moraes Lima
Sep 26, 2016 Courtney Bisinger
Sep 26, 2016 glenda dove
Sep 26, 2016 Adam Russell
Sep 26, 2016 Brit W
Sep 26, 2016 christine condat it's enough now!!!! stop killing elephant just for some pièces of ivory!!!!
Sep 26, 2016 Marilyn Garrett
Sep 26, 2016 Kevin Bertels
Sep 26, 2016 Inge Van den Vonder
Sep 26, 2016 Julia Deasley
Sep 26, 2016 David Graber
Sep 26, 2016 Stacey Dillingham
Sep 26, 2016 Joy Lawrence
Sep 26, 2016 Lynn Coleman
Sep 26, 2016 Amandine Stella
Sep 26, 2016 Pamela Howard
Sep 26, 2016 Barbara Johnson
Sep 26, 2016 Laura weaver
Sep 26, 2016 Arlan Lazere Compassion please
Sep 26, 2016 LH Roughton
Sep 26, 2016 Gia Leonard
Sep 26, 2016 jean louis ALLEGRAN
Sep 26, 2016 nathalie VERBEQUE
Sep 26, 2016 Olena Burym
Sep 26, 2016 Jane Pinckney
Sep 26, 2016 Cindy Hilton
Sep 26, 2016 Myra Taylor
Sep 26, 2016 Catherina Sharma
Sep 26, 2016 Sharon Sutton
Sep 26, 2016 Kellene Estrada
Sep 26, 2016 Rahile Mehdiyeva
Sep 26, 2016 Lisa Caputo
Sep 26, 2016 Jeanette Swart
Sep 26, 2016 Eugenia Bemis Stop the killing
Sep 26, 2016 Gillaine Patterson
Sep 26, 2016 Michel Parein

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