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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,930
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 21, 2018 Jacqueline Muzio
Jul 19, 2018 Toni Peters
Jul 19, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Jul 19, 2018 Samantha Wilson
Jul 19, 2018 Kimberly Whalen
Jul 19, 2018 e raven
Jul 19, 2018 Melvin Michael
Jul 19, 2018 Ianto Anglesey,‎,,
Jul 11, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Jul 11, 2018 Carolyn Mohr
Jul 10, 2018 Gwenda Vollstädt
Jul 10, 2018 Diana Barrett
Jul 8, 2018 Andrew Vallender
Jul 8, 2018 Sheri Gann
Jul 8, 2018 ely jahan
Jul 8, 2018 Joann Smrz
Jul 8, 2018 Sudeshna Ghosh
Jul 8, 2018 Szinger Éva
Jul 8, 2018 horst wagner
Jul 8, 2018 Lauri Fielding
Jul 8, 2018 Tania Hague
Jul 8, 2018 marijke denis
Jul 8, 2018 Cheryl Free
Jul 8, 2018 Zoran Dragicevic
Jul 6, 2018 Lynne Minore
Jul 4, 2018 Ronald Trujillo
Jun 30, 2018 Tammi Long
Jun 29, 2018 Donald Schwartz
Jun 29, 2018 Robyn Nicholson
Jun 29, 2018 suzanne caruso
Jun 27, 2018 Jacklyn Yancy
Jun 26, 2018 Becky Tank
Jun 25, 2018 Samantha Gitman
Jun 24, 2018 Marc Ochs
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

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