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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 93,836
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

Aug 24, 2016 Jenny Ewers
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2016 Victoria Parker
Aug 24, 2016 Barbara Mab6
Aug 24, 2016 Vivian Rivera
Aug 24, 2016 andrea vianna
Aug 24, 2016 Rhonda Oare
Aug 24, 2016 Natalia Sosa
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2016 Sylvie Reeves
Aug 24, 2016 Milene Arruda
Aug 24, 2016 Ginger Currans
Aug 24, 2016 Nicola Foster
Aug 24, 2016 Kayla Beeman
Aug 24, 2016 Paula Dyer
Aug 24, 2016 Michelle McGowan
Aug 24, 2016 Claudia Binfa
Aug 24, 2016 Tatyana kozlova Elephants should not be killed
Aug 24, 2016 Kelly Schumer
Aug 24, 2016 Catherine Bennett Ivory...meant to be on a beautiful elephant and slaughtering them for use to make items is wrong on so many levels! STOP THE SLAUGHTER OF THESE MAJESTIC ANIMALS!!!!
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2016 linda allen
Aug 24, 2016 Christina Platou Don't let the elephants go extinct!
Aug 24, 2016 Vanessa Couture Elephants are the only ones who need ivory! Please stop killing these majestic creatures!!
Aug 24, 2016 Angelo Diamantidis
Aug 24, 2016 Christelle Losiowski Save baby elephants..
Aug 24, 2016 Lauren Savadove
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2016 Monica Jane
Aug 24, 2016 Rupak Bardhan Roy
Aug 24, 2016 adeline jennen
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2016 Blue Wolf Bosh
Aug 24, 2016 Alice Poole
Aug 24, 2016 George Kovacs
Aug 24, 2016 Karhleen Simpson
Aug 24, 2016 Katie Leahy
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 24, 2016 Christine Ciempola
Aug 24, 2016 lin howells
Aug 24, 2016 Wanda Tomaski
Aug 24, 2016 (Name not displayed) China please stop your thrust for elephant ivory. You are the worst country. Think of animals, not you and money. You're discussing.
Aug 24, 2016 paul pope
Aug 23, 2016 Kim Hanen Please stop this cruelty.
Aug 23, 2016 Terry Martin
Aug 23, 2016 Caroline Cross Please stop this cruelty to these magnificent beautiful creatures and show people you have compassion and want to save them and make that change to this cruel world we live in.
Aug 23, 2016 Sheree Ruddy
Aug 23, 2016 Robyn Keren Save those babies, we should be doing everything we can to protect wildlife!
Aug 23, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Aug 23, 2016 (Name not displayed) STOP THE KILLING OF THESE BEAUTIFUL ELEPHANTS!!!

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