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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: 68,674
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 30, 2014 Irena Marshall
Aug 30, 2014 Dumaine Mickael
Aug 30, 2014 alan johnson No animal large or small deserves a fate like these poor mammoths get at the hands of ivory poachers. Find them and make them pay for their crimes against nature.
Aug 30, 2014 Lindy Houweninge
Aug 30, 2014 margie splendore
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 29, 2014 Amie Annis
Aug 29, 2014 Annette Thompson
Aug 29, 2014 Sandra Carp
Aug 29, 2014 Rosemary Allison Smyth
Aug 29, 2014 Peter Collyer
Aug 29, 2014 Maria Arranz
Aug 29, 2014 Bethanie C. Deerchild
Aug 29, 2014 Bianca Linders
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 29, 2014 Monika Laendle
Aug 29, 2014 Lynne Pendergast
Aug 29, 2014 Eileen Conway Help save these majestic wonderful amazing creatures..
Aug 29, 2014 Cortney Mostafa
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 29, 2014 Chandra Summitt this breaks my heart ! God wouldn't want you to kill his creatures over ivory WHERES THE HUMANITY IN PEOPLE!
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed) The killing of African elephants needs to stop, so they don't become extinct! Use something man-made, instead of ivory!
Aug 29, 2014 Dr. Brito What are the consequences o0f such human greed?
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed) What is wrong with people who want & use ivory. Don't they know (or care) that animals are killed to "harvest" their ivory?!
Aug 29, 2014 Linda Van Den Broeke
Aug 29, 2014 Patricia Knauss Please lead the world in getting to the point where all ivory sales are banned. It is the only way to save the African elephants from extinction.
Aug 29, 2014 Mary J Reed
Aug 29, 2014 dipanwita dasgupta
Aug 29, 2014 Jamee Warfle
Aug 29, 2014 Georgette Borden
Aug 29, 2014 Cecilia Banner
Aug 29, 2014 Sally Howard
Aug 29, 2014 Christa Haisty
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 29, 2014 Julian Huffer
Aug 29, 2014 S A healy
Aug 29, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 29, 2014 Stephanie Linam China as a whole should be embarrassed and ashamed, for the horrible pollution, shark finning, overfishing, poisoned dog food, melamine in their milk and the murder of majestic, intelligent elephants. Shame on you, China!!
Aug 29, 2014 Bonnie Rotz
Aug 29, 2014 Liv Graham
Aug 29, 2014 Vicki Belanger
Aug 29, 2014 Michelle Hyllested
Aug 29, 2014 Julie Martin
Aug 29, 2014 Heather Marshall
Aug 29, 2014 LEWIS JOHNSON
Aug 29, 2014 Ben Gershon
Aug 29, 2014 DONNA RUDY
Aug 29, 2014 Tamala Atkinson I am very disappointed at the Chinese. Elephants are majestic creatures and the Chinese government should be doing all it can to ban ivory in China.

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