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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: 69,226
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

Sep 16, 2014 Tonie Hernandez
Sep 16, 2014 Olga Rodríguez alonso
Sep 16, 2014 Michelle Osmond
Sep 15, 2014 Silvina de Fátima Vaz
Sep 15, 2014 sophie delboux
Sep 15, 2014 Victoria Mikhaylov
Sep 15, 2014 ruth livorsi
Sep 15, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 15, 2014 Josilene Nascimento
Sep 15, 2014 sara small
Sep 15, 2014 Celeste Henderson
Sep 15, 2014 Courtney Cecere
Sep 15, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 15, 2014 Viviane Escudie
Sep 15, 2014 Natalie Gagnon
Sep 15, 2014 burak ertan
Sep 15, 2014 Gillian Whitty
Sep 15, 2014 Felipe Pasqualino
Sep 15, 2014 Juliana Barreto
Sep 15, 2014 Jeanette Stone
Sep 15, 2014 Sofia Kalliolia
Sep 15, 2014 Cher Oteyza
Sep 15, 2014 Chris Thomann
Sep 15, 2014 Mary Norton
Sep 15, 2014 Suzanne Harris
Sep 15, 2014 Annette van den Berg
Sep 14, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 14, 2014 Ann Appleton
Sep 12, 2014 barbara Hughes China has no regard for human life let alone animal life. Please quit buying ivory there are very few elephants left in the wild...don't you want your children to be able to enjoy them?
Sep 12, 2014 Disha Bhown
Sep 12, 2014 Jennifer Fox
Sep 12, 2014 Maria Curtis
Sep 12, 2014 briana dimler
Sep 12, 2014 Rick Mannshardt
Sep 12, 2014 shannon dunlap STOP the sale of Ivory.
Sep 12, 2014 jade lam
Sep 11, 2014 Sandhya Singh
Sep 11, 2014 Todd Gray
Sep 11, 2014 Marlene McKee
Sep 11, 2014 Jenny Bennetts
Sep 11, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 10, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 10, 2014 Jonathan Bruck
Sep 10, 2014 April Joseph Please make this stop.
Sep 10, 2014 Caroline Maurinier
Sep 10, 2014 martine campe
Sep 10, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 10, 2014 René Lotterman
Sep 10, 2014 Rochelle Thomas
Sep 10, 2014 Karina Gutierrez

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