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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: 69,379
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 21, 2014 Lucille Shoemaker
Sep 21, 2014 mary wheeler
Sep 21, 2014 Sherri Moody
Sep 21, 2014 gordana sesina
Sep 21, 2014 Peter Ozzimo Jr
Sep 21, 2014 Yvonne Saldana
Sep 21, 2014 Gabriela Baumann
Sep 20, 2014 Peggy Tamez
Sep 20, 2014 susana luna
Sep 20, 2014 Stacie Miller
Sep 20, 2014 Moraiah Luna
Sep 20, 2014 Sandy Robinson
Sep 20, 2014 Susan Wantke
Sep 20, 2014 Maria Simao
Sep 20, 2014 Margherita Polia
Sep 20, 2014 Christian stevens
Sep 20, 2014 Henrietta Nováki
Sep 19, 2014 Jennifer Wolf
Sep 19, 2014 Lea Faulks
Sep 19, 2014 Deborah Goodrich It's really too bad elephants don't live in more civilized countries where they would be protected.
Sep 19, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Sep 19, 2014 Frederick McMullen
Sep 19, 2014 Julie Paul
Sep 19, 2014 Marcia Rand
Sep 19, 2014 Dona Anderson
Sep 19, 2014 Dorothy Johnson
Sep 19, 2014 Maryann LaNew
Sep 19, 2014 patrick vonck
Sep 19, 2014 Lauren Lunde
Sep 19, 2014 sandra bronson This must stop!!
Sep 19, 2014 desiree van arkens
Sep 18, 2014 Elizabeth Rocco
Sep 18, 2014 Yani Tua
Sep 18, 2014 Myriam ROBERT
Sep 18, 2014 (Name not displayed) Please help save the elephants. We only have one world, one chance to keep from extinction of these great crearures. Compare this species to the panda. Don't each deserve a place in our precious earth.
Sep 18, 2014 Sara Petrovčič
Sep 18, 2014 Giovanni Espinoza
Sep 18, 2014 Heather bishop
Sep 18, 2014 Daniela Mair
Sep 18, 2014 Maite Gomez Gutierrez
Sep 17, 2014 Allison Kintner
Sep 17, 2014 Michelle Austin
Sep 17, 2014 naomi gillespie
Sep 17, 2014 Deborah Camasta
Sep 17, 2014 Begun Oiri
Sep 17, 2014 Ronaldo Soares Santana
Sep 17, 2014 Michelle Catalfamo No ONE needs a Buddha statute made out of ivory elephant tusk. Let's slowly and painfully rip out all their teeth and remove their bones to make useless trinkets. Fucking savages
Sep 17, 2014 Vicky Dubie
Sep 17, 2014 thomas rowen
Sep 17, 2014 Sabine Bosemeyer

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