Skip navigation

no spam, unsubscribe anytime.
Skip navigation
Goal: 100,000 Progress: 92,172
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

Jul 24, 2016 lori spears
Jul 24, 2016 Robert Stroud
Jul 24, 2016 Peggy Crowl
Jul 24, 2016 Shannon Taylor
Jul 23, 2016 Pauline Parker
Jul 23, 2016 Jean-François BERREVILLE
Jul 23, 2016 claudette cutajar
Jul 22, 2016 Martin Henz
Jul 22, 2016 Debbie Paulin
Jul 22, 2016 Warren Birkinshaw
Jul 22, 2016 Kay Birkinshaw
Jul 21, 2016 Markus Höwel
Jul 21, 2016 Victoria Huddleston
Jul 20, 2016 Michael Petherick
Jul 20, 2016 Krista Slavin
Jul 20, 2016 Marian Hill
Jul 20, 2016 Laura Gustoson These murderers must stop at once!
Jul 20, 2016 annette brockman
Jul 20, 2016 Jean-Marie Albert Please help put a stop to this!
Jul 19, 2016 Deanna menendez
Jul 19, 2016 Eric & Marilyn Bustin Please don't allow these beautiful, intelligent creatures to be driven into extinction by the greed and inhumanity of murderous profiteers. Help us save them!!
Jul 19, 2016 Angela Jensen
Jul 19, 2016 mary e hunt
Jul 19, 2016 catherine mengani
Jul 18, 2016 Betty Humphries
Jul 18, 2016 Randy Keith
Jul 18, 2016 susan lim
Jul 18, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jul 18, 2016 (Name not displayed) Leave the ivory on the elephants where it belongs! The evil doers and traders will pay for their crimes, and I'm not talking monetarily.
Jul 18, 2016 Linda Arnett So cruel. Please stop the killing of these magnificent creatures. Unimaginable that they are destroyed for such nonsense by clearly ignorant people.
Jul 18, 2016 Christine Wood Please make all efforts as possible to stop the killing of innocent elephants. A cultural view of ivory needs to be changed where the demands are the greatest. Thank you.
Jul 18, 2016 leila sen
Jul 18, 2016 Laurie Pigeon
Jul 18, 2016 Kate Elliott
Jul 18, 2016 Marco TIRELLI
Jul 18, 2016 Gal Yahav
Jul 18, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jul 18, 2016 Karen Presson
Jul 18, 2016 Katherine Mouzourakis
Jul 18, 2016 Della Conwell
Jul 18, 2016 Margaret Umbsen
Jul 18, 2016 Denise Tankha
Jul 18, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jul 18, 2016 sanya gnc
Jul 18, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jul 18, 2016 nancy zermeno
Jul 18, 2016 Kit Efraimson It is ethically wrong to kill these majestic animals. There are many substitutes. #Mercy4Animals. CHINA Stop living in the 19th century BanIvory
Jul 18, 2016 (Name not displayed)
Jul 18, 2016 Michelle Rostlund

back to top

Share this page and help protect habitat: