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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,895
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

Jun 23, 2018 Anne Caldwell
Jun 20, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Jun 17, 2018 Axa Tolonen
Jun 15, 2018 laura Haworth
Jun 13, 2018 Laurie Munoz
Jun 9, 2018 Jeanne-Denise Jacobs
Jun 8, 2018 mona boggio
Jun 8, 2018 Linda Cumming
Jun 8, 2018 Mary Keating
Jun 4, 2018 TIM TAYLOR in honor of my friend Glenn
May 28, 2018 Joshua Barber Inhumane
May 28, 2018 Andreea Tănase To whom it may concern, please use comon sense and stop this everlasting madness already.
May 27, 2018 K Mudrone
May 27, 2018 Holly McDonald
May 27, 2018 Laurie Peterson
May 27, 2018 karen drake
May 27, 2018 Kris Harris
May 27, 2018 (Name not displayed) This hunting is so so evil 👹
May 27, 2018 (Name not displayed) When they all died, our grandchildren will never know them!
May 27, 2018 Stacy Hortaridis
May 27, 2018 George Shepherd The human race should be helping to ensure the survival of the wild animals with which we share this planet not decimating them!
May 27, 2018 (Name not displayed)
May 27, 2018 Debra Trimble
May 27, 2018 Kacy Harnedy
May 27, 2018 Inger Edelfeldt
May 26, 2018 Patricia Mihailescu
May 26, 2018 Adriana Baptista
May 26, 2018 Mary koons
May 26, 2018 Glenda Krause
May 26, 2018 Charles Youtz
May 26, 2018 Eva Lightfoot
May 26, 2018 Kim Fereda For what reason? This so sad
May 26, 2018 Raquel ArnAo
May 26, 2018 (Name not displayed) Our future children have a right to see this animal alive and well!
May 26, 2018 Elizabeth Castillo
May 26, 2018 Pamela Rodgers
May 26, 2018 (Name not displayed)
May 26, 2018 Renee Coscia
May 26, 2018 Sharon Arnal Stop the MADNESS😡
May 26, 2018 Cornelia Harmon
May 26, 2018 (Name not displayed)
May 26, 2018 Dawn Wars
May 26, 2018 Jennifer Oluwaseyi-Salami
May 26, 2018 Dan McCoy Ban elephant trophies!
May 26, 2018 Lisa Nowak
May 26, 2018 (Name not displayed)
May 25, 2018 Lucy Malkani
May 25, 2018 Jill Banta
May 23, 2018 Barb Breese
May 22, 2018 Mary Hayward

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