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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,607
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 17, 2017 Lori Dozark
Oct 17, 2017 Virginie Eple
Oct 14, 2017 Brent Pennell
Oct 14, 2017 Rita Council
Oct 14, 2017 Karl-Heinz Braun
Oct 13, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 13, 2017 amrita biswas
Oct 13, 2017 Sandra Schomberg
Oct 13, 2017 Giovanna Martinez
Oct 13, 2017 Donna Partin
Oct 13, 2017 Linda Burrows
Oct 11, 2017 Elaine Davis
Oct 9, 2017 dana newsom
Oct 9, 2017 Susan Fisher
Oct 7, 2017 Aleesha Becj If we want elephants to remain alive and safe and not go extinct, we need to stop poaching.
Oct 7, 2017 Terry Brown
Oct 6, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Oct 3, 2017 Angela Meeks
Oct 2, 2017 Phyllis Bartholomew
Oct 2, 2017 Josette Mitchell
Oct 2, 2017 Debbie Novak
Oct 2, 2017 Valérie Drianne
Oct 1, 2017 Laurence Volbart
Sep 29, 2017 LINDA BARRATT
Sep 28, 2017 dionne toye
Sep 27, 2017 Pamela Trepke
Sep 27, 2017 doris gonen
Sep 26, 2017 Pamela Babcock
Sep 26, 2017 Lisa Sherman
Sep 22, 2017 Paola Moretti
Sep 22, 2017 Linda Mattice
Sep 22, 2017 dr. s moeller In the name of profit, we have lost our humanity, any semblance of ethics and empathy -- how do we get it back?
Sep 21, 2017 Mark Jones So many countries around the world have moved to ban the sale and possession of ivory, so we must put an end to this by banning it from being taken. Harsh penalties must be applied not only to poachers, but the middle men and end users to weed them out.
Sep 21, 2017 Kat Klahn
Sep 21, 2017 Eva Bessemer
Sep 21, 2017 Yannick Vanaverbeke
Sep 20, 2017 Josie Avalos
Sep 20, 2017 Margaret Evans Please stop the poaching of these beautiful animals. We do not want them to become extinct. You can help stop this. Please save them
Sep 20, 2017 Barbara Schmidt
Sep 20, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Sep 19, 2017 Margaret Adams Please protect our glorious elephants. End poaching! End ivory sales worldwide. Punish poachers to the fullest extent.
Sep 19, 2017 Helen Rehan Ivory is for elephants...that's it...period!!!
Sep 19, 2017 Joan Tramontano Save the elephants. Forbid ivory.
Sep 19, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Sep 19, 2017 Jcarol Cummings
Sep 19, 2017 Renee Valentine
Sep 19, 2017 Jodi Ferren I hope and pray we can save these beautiful animals.. And others that are in same position.. 🐘🐘
Sep 19, 2017 Imbi Taniel
Sep 19, 2017 Annik Lambert
Sep 19, 2017 Donna Hope

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