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Goal: 100,000 Progress: 95,567
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

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
Sep 19, 2017 Jacqueline Hector
Sep 19, 2017 Christel Evelyn
Sep 19, 2017 Piera Zanor
Sep 19, 2017 Sherry Greene
Sep 19, 2017 Josee Grimard
Sep 19, 2017 Tia Colebatch
Sep 19, 2017 Sarah Shapiro
Sep 18, 2017 Gautam Honawar
Sep 18, 2017 Tracie Mchugh
Sep 18, 2017 Anne Leigh
Sep 18, 2017 Dimitra Aravani
Sep 18, 2017 Chris Durand
Sep 18, 2017 Sue Grenfell
Sep 18, 2017 Maria Rodriguez
Sep 18, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Sep 18, 2017 Melissa Nameembra
Sep 18, 2017 Elena Greco
Sep 18, 2017 Evelyn Enteman
Sep 18, 2017 Susan Millican Please save these beautiful creatures!
Sep 18, 2017 Gina Estes
Sep 18, 2017 Kong Hui
Sep 18, 2017 David Marshall
Sep 18, 2017 (Name not displayed)
Sep 18, 2017 Lajeanne Leveton
Sep 18, 2017 Dawn Rocco <3
Sep 18, 2017 selvarani rangasamy Leave our Jumbo's free
Sep 18, 2017 Nyoka Sanders
Sep 18, 2017 Robert Massa
Sep 18, 2017 Susan Starkweather Do whatever it takes to preserve and protect the elephants.
Sep 18, 2017 Sarah Andrews
Sep 18, 2017 Ruth Mallon
Sep 18, 2017 Laurie Lewis
Sep 18, 2017 (Name not displayed) When is the chinese going to realise that their greed is evil, they wont be happy until they are all gone
Sep 18, 2017 Becky Shaw
Sep 18, 2017 Kristina Näsman
Sep 18, 2017 Marie-Jeanne Somville
Sep 18, 2017 Anna Foster
Sep 18, 2017 Linda Hughes
Sep 18, 2017 Nora Córdova
Sep 18, 2017 Karen Pyles I say open season on poachers! Kill them all and spare the elephants!

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