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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,310
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

May 25, 2017 Stephen Moyer
May 25, 2017 Char-anna Koblick
May 23, 2017 Walter Walske Please do all you can to stop poaching, trophy hunting & anything else that depletes their numbers! Please be Pro-active in their survival and thriving!
May 22, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 22, 2017 Lacey Smith
May 20, 2017 James Deschene
May 20, 2017 Carl Hoffmeister
May 19, 2017 Sandra Murphy
May 19, 2017 Emily Howell
May 16, 2017 Elizabeth Frost
May 15, 2017 Michelle Mainieri
May 13, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 10, 2017 Lix Tuls
May 9, 2017 Mary Salerno
May 9, 2017 Suzanne Salerno
May 9, 2017 Thao Vu
May 7, 2017 Lorraine Gardiner
May 7, 2017 Jayne DellEra
May 6, 2017 helen m. oggoian
May 6, 2017 Carolina Cox
May 6, 2017 Annika BRUNA
May 6, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 5, 2017 DIANE POOLE
May 3, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 3, 2017 Gabi Sorrell
May 2, 2017 Artur Xavier
May 1, 2017 (Name not displayed)
May 1, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Apr 30, 2017 Melanie Pietersen
Apr 29, 2017 Star Arwen Light ? China: This is Ignorantly uncool. We determined so in the 1980s as an entire country. Grow up; catch up - ignorance to the world around you is as ugly as it is stupid. ~*~ Your friend, the USA
Apr 26, 2017 Margret Hedinsdottir
Apr 26, 2017 Eva Passerini
Apr 25, 2017 Jeanine Vaerewyck Dear Ambassador, wouldn't you like the chance for your children and grandchildren to see live elephants
Apr 24, 2017 Autumn Millette
Apr 24, 2017 Jessica Adderley
Apr 24, 2017 Robin Chakravarti Please bring China into the modern age and stop this idiotic superstitions.
Apr 24, 2017 Jessica Calosci
Apr 24, 2017 Donna Fredrickson
Apr 24, 2017 Dubrava Elena
Apr 24, 2017 Ασλανίδη Αλεξάνδρα
Apr 24, 2017 Klaus Buehring
Apr 24, 2017 Anneke Ruys
Apr 24, 2017 Sławomir Prucnal
Apr 23, 2017 Zoe Spiropoulou
Apr 23, 2017 Elena Gladkova
Apr 23, 2017 Jeanne Buterbaugh
Apr 23, 2017 (Name not displayed) Please use your influence and condemn the sale of ivory and promote the preservation of these gentle giants, the elephant.
Apr 23, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Apr 23, 2017 Ashley Rozanski

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