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In less than two weeks, authorities in Kenya, Hong Kong, and Vietnam apprehended nearly seven tons of contraband ivory in four separate raids -- thousands of pieces destined for illegal markets where uninformed consumers trade elephants' lives for trinkets. We can't lose these majestic creatures to greed! Sign below to help end this deadly trade.
Goal: 75,000 Progress: 67,999
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 in 2013.

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

Aug 29, 2014 JoAnn Macchia Please stop this horrific behavior.
Aug 29, 2014 Rosemary Henderson How pathetic is it that humanity can be reduced to doing this?
Aug 29, 2014 Brian Reagan Really? THIS horror is still an issue? Why hasn't this been made a matter of normal education and shame for perpetrators? Please help curb this sickening business.
Aug 29, 2014 Rossella Carocci
Aug 29, 2014 irem acimuz villar nuñez
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed) I will never buy any products that are made from any part of any animal the situation in China is terrible the way that any animal is treated in the country is appalling I will never enter the Country ad abhor the market in Ivory.
Aug 29, 2014 Sandi Sternberg
Aug 29, 2014 Julie Wilson Dear Ambassador, Please please try to stop the poaching of ivory. Elephants are a joy to the world what will be killed to extinction once they are gone and then what will be on the list? To see them in the wild is a privilege let them live!!!!
Aug 29, 2014 Gianluigi Zagarella
Aug 29, 2014 valerie tippett
Aug 29, 2014 Jennifer Leber
Aug 29, 2014 Sofia Collberg
Aug 29, 2014 Heather Clark
Aug 28, 2014 Laura Sungenis
Aug 28, 2014 Greatest Ever
Aug 28, 2014 AMANDA LANE
Aug 27, 2014 Pia Bogart
Aug 27, 2014 Amanda Vido
Aug 27, 2014 Heidi Handsaker
Aug 27, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 27, 2014 Karen Springfield-Verna Cruel. BOYCOTT CHINA and its products until this stops. Period!
Aug 27, 2014 Marie Davis
Aug 27, 2014 Katerina Törönen
Aug 27, 2014 Carla Winger
Aug 27, 2014 Larry Branson
Aug 27, 2014 Minerva Krueger
Aug 27, 2014 maureen oshea
Aug 25, 2014 Monica King
Aug 25, 2014 Laura Ward
Aug 25, 2014 Paula Fleck
Aug 24, 2014 Jia Hui Lee
Aug 24, 2014 Leila Sultan
Aug 24, 2014 Debbie Seiler
Aug 24, 2014 dani waggoner
Aug 24, 2014 Bonnie Beck
Aug 24, 2014 Karen Scrivner
Aug 24, 2014 Michelle Steil
Aug 23, 2014 Amber Wallace
Aug 23, 2014 stacey jackson
Aug 23, 2014 Brenda Marshall
Aug 23, 2014 laura ornella
Aug 23, 2014 Susan Madden
Aug 22, 2014 Wendy Howard The natural environment is being destroyed due to the ignorance of human beings. Do not you not realize once these beautiful creatures are gone, they're gone.
Aug 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 22, 2014 Maria Albuquerque
Aug 22, 2014 Kimmy Marshall
Aug 22, 2014 Leila Mojab
Aug 22, 2014 Bryna Schreier

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