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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: 66,495
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

Jul 12, 2014 Emily Clarke
Jul 12, 2014 Denise Smith
Jul 11, 2014 (Name not displayed) Life is worth more than any type of "gold".
Jul 11, 2014 Annita Oxford
Jul 10, 2014 marie-anna ultsch
Jul 10, 2014 Sharon Baines
Jul 10, 2014 Lori Burch
Jul 9, 2014 Heike Becker
Jul 9, 2014 Tracey Cheney
Jul 9, 2014 Kara Rosenblatt
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed) ALMOST THERE PLEASE HELP THEM
Jul 9, 2014 Elizabeth O'Connor
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 9, 2014 daphne joseph
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed) Pls stop killing these amazing innocent animals
Jul 9, 2014 Stephanie Boemers
Jul 9, 2014 ANNA CLIFTON
Jul 9, 2014 Amanda Dunlap
Jul 9, 2014 Sheryl Conerly
Jul 9, 2014 Erin L
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 9, 2014 Katrin Franzen
Jul 9, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 9, 2014 Faryn Bardin
Jul 8, 2014 Gábor Major
Jul 8, 2014 Lance Kammerud
Jul 8, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 8, 2014 Christiane Freiin von Kentzingen
Jul 8, 2014 Sarah Talley
Jul 8, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 8, 2014 Emmie Gorrell
Jul 8, 2014 Christina Michael
Jul 8, 2014 Pat Mair
Jul 7, 2014 lucida garneau
Jul 6, 2014 Alicia Addeo
Jul 6, 2014 Darby Isaac Davis
Jul 6, 2014 Julia Schebach
Jul 6, 2014 ruth irish
Jul 6, 2014 Judy Talamantes
Jul 6, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 5, 2014 Ola Almazova
Jul 5, 2014 Quentin Babel
Jul 4, 2014 Debi Griffin
Jul 2, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Jul 2, 2014 Kelli Glaze
Jul 2, 2014 carlo borelli
Jul 1, 2014 Mischa Abakumova
Jul 1, 2014 (Name not displayed) Stop the genocide! There is no wealth status in murder!

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