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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 94,419
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

Dec 4, 2016 Nadezhda Artemenko
Dec 4, 2016 Tersia Pope
Dec 3, 2016 joyce whitcomb
Dec 3, 2016 Robin Larrabee
Dec 3, 2016 Emiliana Ribeiadio
Dec 3, 2016 liliya belogaeva
Dec 3, 2016 Teresa Fox Enough! Please!
Dec 3, 2016 Tammy Evans
Dec 3, 2016 Irene Bourne STOP..STOP..STOP..It doesn't surprise me, they eat dogs!!! Barbaric, SICK country!!!!!!!!
Dec 1, 2016 Jenna Harris
Nov 30, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Nov 30, 2016 Kelly Bittle
Nov 30, 2016 Albert D'Alessandro
Nov 29, 2016 Markus Jonsson
Nov 28, 2016 Patricia Vazquez
Nov 28, 2016 Rafael Ortuño It is important to take care of the many species that so generously share the habitat with us and that embellish our planet, we have to realize how important it is to preserve these species
Nov 28, 2016 maya goya
Nov 28, 2016 Herman T.
Nov 28, 2016 hell hell
Nov 27, 2016 Angela Dilley
Nov 27, 2016 Agnès LEGRAND
Nov 27, 2016 Camille Drinan Any death of an animal to supply people with ivory or horn is blatant greed on the part of the poachers and corrupt officials. Please do the right thing and save the elephants and rhinos from extinction.
Nov 27, 2016 Judith Ott Please stop illegal ivory trade. It threatens wildlife. We need to keep our wildlife.
Nov 27, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Nov 27, 2016 María Victoria Santamaría
Nov 27, 2016 Summer Seacrest Stop this slaughter now !
Nov 27, 2016 Morgan Snead
Nov 27, 2016 Cassandra Wiggins
Nov 27, 2016 grazyna witkowska
Nov 27, 2016 christine CEARD
Nov 27, 2016 Angela Buckley
Nov 27, 2016 Bree Santiglia
Nov 27, 2016 Francine Traniello
Nov 27, 2016 Gisela Sodorsky
Nov 27, 2016 CHIP POUGH
Nov 27, 2016 Tina Briscoe This is barbaric and needs to stop! These are beautiful docile creatures who deserve to live in peace!
Nov 27, 2016 Françoise SEGAIN Save thé elephants
Nov 27, 2016 Sharon Dunfrund Stop this barbarism and torture right now!
Nov 27, 2016 Catherine Youmans-Mooney
Nov 27, 2016 Sasha van Brink-Verhoeve
Nov 27, 2016 edwige derer
Nov 27, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Nov 27, 2016 Simone Boeck
Nov 27, 2016 Dawn Vega Please act like advanced human life forms and not like savages and stop this disgusting display of human greed and ignorance.
Nov 27, 2016 (Name not displayed) No more bloody teeth, no more killing of elefants
Nov 27, 2016 darlene finberg
Nov 27, 2016 Patricia Seiple
Nov 27, 2016 Emma Spurgin Hussey
Nov 27, 2016 monique faye
Nov 27, 2016 cherie chantal

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