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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,493
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 22, 2017 Melissa McKenna
Aug 22, 2017 Doreen Walter
Aug 15, 2017 regina sondej
Aug 15, 2017 Reverend Alice Batcher
Aug 12, 2017 Janet Waite This is SO neanderthal and short-sighted, and is a total abomination. To do nothing while the illegal ivory trade threatens the very existence of elephants is WAY beyond horrid! STOP this bloody ivory trade NOW.
Aug 12, 2017 Mario Rocha
Aug 12, 2017 Petrast Stadtmueller
Aug 12, 2017 Monika Saluter
Aug 12, 2017 Frida Rodriguez Stop killing them!
Aug 10, 2017 Pascale Beroud
Aug 10, 2017 Rebecca Uhl
Aug 10, 2017 SONYA SONY
Aug 10, 2017 carolina comanescu
Aug 10, 2017 Fern Swecker
Aug 10, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 10, 2017 jeff harteam
Aug 9, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 9, 2017 Patricia Anderson
Aug 9, 2017 Pat Callaghan Stop killing Elephants for ivory you evil morons
Aug 9, 2017 linda waite Ivory doesn't belong to China it belongs to the elephants. Other countries have seen the damage being done now China show the rest of the world you aren't barbarians
Aug 9, 2017 Elodie Guglieri
Aug 9, 2017 Mary Eliades Renew the ban on ivory. It is one of the ways that elephants will survive.
Aug 9, 2017 marja leino
Aug 9, 2017 Annika Ryding
Aug 8, 2017 Debra Maggs
Aug 8, 2017 Deepti Krishnan
Aug 8, 2017 Donna Gilbert
Aug 8, 2017 Kami Robinson
Aug 8, 2017 Chris Hooymans
Aug 8, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Aug 8, 2017 Gita Mehta
Aug 8, 2017 Gwen Jones
Aug 8, 2017 Wendelyn Anderson
Aug 8, 2017 Roswitha Hanowski
Aug 8, 2017 Ada Saei
Aug 8, 2017 Anne Scotland
Aug 8, 2017 Deirdre Muir
Aug 8, 2017 bill panagiotou every piece of ivory is another murdered elephant, not worth it!
Aug 8, 2017 Paul Houston These beautiful creatures are a gift to all STOP the scum from killing them. If the poacher is caught they should br imprisoned for life
Aug 8, 2017 Shelley Novak
Aug 8, 2017 Juliane Rocha
Aug 8, 2017 Denise Pepler
Aug 8, 2017 Aavyusam Karthik
Aug 8, 2017 Hélène Théoret
Aug 8, 2017 Ilona Csatlos-graudins
Aug 8, 2017 Desiree West
Aug 8, 2017 Debbie Haman
Aug 8, 2017 Marie Darrah
Aug 7, 2017 gabe horn

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