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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,172
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

Mar 28, 2017 Peggy Lau
Mar 28, 2017 German Ribada Serrano
Mar 28, 2017 Jo Rapier
Mar 28, 2017 Nicole Lahn
Mar 27, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 27, 2017 Patricia Sansom
Mar 27, 2017 Sharon Evans-Ford
Mar 27, 2017 Lynn Harden
Mar 27, 2017 Beryl E. Sanders The Chinese and other orientals need to be persecuted for being the the largest importers of ivory in the world. Why aren't all businesses being prosecuted for selling ivory at the expense of beautiful animals that are becoming extinct. and tigers organs
Mar 27, 2017 Maritza Patch
Mar 27, 2017 Debbie Murray
Mar 27, 2017 Maria Pazos
Mar 27, 2017 Tracey Smith
Mar 27, 2017 Jade Smith
Mar 27, 2017 Marina Phillips Exploiting these majestic creatures to extinction is not acceptable - punish both poachers AND those who buy from them severely!
Mar 27, 2017 Susan Randall
Mar 27, 2017 (Name not displayed) Save elephants.Capture and punish poachers, and the people who buy from them. Thank you.
Mar 27, 2017 Carrie Brinkos
Mar 27, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 27, 2017 Aura Mix
Mar 27, 2017 Sophie Massonnaud
Mar 27, 2017 Margaret Wojciechowski
Mar 27, 2017 Courtney Bisinger
Mar 27, 2017 tassadyte mohamed
Mar 27, 2017 hakima izri
Mar 27, 2017 Shona Steere
Mar 27, 2017 Evelyn Betancourt
Mar 27, 2017 joan Norris
Mar 27, 2017 Dominique Danon
Mar 27, 2017 Phyllis Jollie Stop killing the elephants for ivory start painting them different colors so they are of no value
Mar 27, 2017 Ann WOLF
Mar 27, 2017 Alii Bek
Mar 27, 2017 Ann Roussin
Mar 27, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 27, 2017 Catherine Quintana
Mar 27, 2017 Mark Warburton
Mar 27, 2017 Mitzi Twine
Mar 27, 2017 Jocelyn Warburton
Mar 27, 2017 Mary Roper
Mar 27, 2017 Belen Keller
Mar 27, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Mar 27, 2017 wilfrid quevedo
Mar 27, 2017 Francine Sutton
Mar 27, 2017 Michael Taylor
Mar 27, 2017 Rozalie Palan Shoot the poachers on sight!
Mar 27, 2017 Bettina Bruck
Mar 27, 2017 Rob Hardy
Mar 27, 2017 mauricette dussert
Mar 27, 2017 Jean Parsons

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