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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 94,163
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

Oct 23, 2016 Melissa Allen
Oct 22, 2016 Janice LittleJohn This HAS to STOP! Don't poachers and big game hunters understand what EXTINCT means?
Oct 21, 2016 Dilnora Gouliamova
Oct 21, 2016 bobbie wright
Oct 20, 2016 Muriel Servaege
Oct 20, 2016 Alexandra Cordeiro
Oct 20, 2016 Helen Flavel
Oct 20, 2016 Marinella Raiteri
Oct 19, 2016 Miriam Navarro
Oct 19, 2016 Eve Delmonte
Oct 19, 2016 Laura Poore
Oct 19, 2016 Tammy Barnes
Oct 19, 2016 Maureen Ackerley
Oct 19, 2016 (Name not displayed) Terrible thing ti do to such beautiful , majestic creatures! Shame!
Oct 19, 2016 Dina Witcher Stop the ivory trad!!!!!!
Oct 19, 2016 Danielle L'Ecuyer
Oct 19, 2016 Linda Witcher Please stop the ivory trade that is fueling the cruel & illegal slaughter of Africa's elephants! This practice is barbaric & MUST STOP IMMEDIATELY TO PREVENT THE EXTERMINATION OF THESE MAGNIFICENT CREATURES!!! IVORY NEEDS TO REMAIN ON ORIGINAL OWNERS!!
Oct 19, 2016 Loretta Weber
Oct 19, 2016 jill hodson
Oct 19, 2016 Julia Mayorga Stop this now! Its illegal and inhumane. These animals are beautiful and intelligent. Save them from extinction
Oct 19, 2016 françoise béguin
Oct 19, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Oct 19, 2016 Jean Spencer There's more at stake than your country. You are literally selling the future away. You can choose to make the moral and ethical decisions that affect all of us that care, that don't profit off killing and suffering.
Oct 19, 2016 Melissa Traina
Oct 19, 2016 Kandy Rogers
Oct 19, 2016 Andria Schmidt
Oct 19, 2016 Shamarie Apling
Oct 19, 2016 Heidi Kolstad
Oct 19, 2016 Susan Hird
Oct 19, 2016 Diane Andrews
Oct 19, 2016 maria gabriella mucci
Oct 19, 2016 Heather Stevens
Oct 19, 2016 Giuseppe Fatiguso
Oct 19, 2016 Jacqueline Laude
Oct 19, 2016 Katherin Weiss
Oct 19, 2016 majella hunston
Oct 19, 2016 Derek Bousé
Oct 19, 2016 misty carr
Oct 19, 2016 Charmagne Missimer I don't know how people can be so heartless as to kill these majestic creatures.....just for a stupid trinket. Why doesn't the world come to their senses. more killing !!!
Oct 19, 2016 kristin sullivan
Oct 19, 2016 Susan Hill
Oct 19, 2016 Briony Wolf
Oct 19, 2016 susan Bartlett This has to stop. it is absolutely disgusting, to make elephant ornaments out of ivory, How can these people live with themselves. China always does what it want's and won't cooperate, it is time to make sure they do before it is to late.
Oct 19, 2016 maibritt hedegaard
Oct 18, 2016 Bernadette O'Maoileidigh
Oct 18, 2016 Elizabeth Bastos
Oct 18, 2016 Gulnara Syulgina
Oct 17, 2016 Marsha Croner
Oct 14, 2016 Paula Caraquio

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