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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: 64,900
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

Apr 24, 2014 Clare Kuehn Come on people!
Apr 23, 2014 yana janette bieles da silva
Apr 23, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Apr 23, 2014 debi logan
Apr 23, 2014 Michelle Triplett-Wilkerson
Apr 23, 2014 Claudia May
Apr 22, 2014 Heidi Lundholm
Apr 22, 2014 Wanda Norgaard
Apr 22, 2014 June Bostock
Apr 22, 2014 David Szanto
Apr 22, 2014 Tommy Dees
Apr 22, 2014 Sabine Wolf
Apr 21, 2014 Susan Murray
Apr 21, 2014 Alicia Guevara
Apr 21, 2014 iryna dziadziulia
Apr 21, 2014 Marina Taylor
Apr 21, 2014 Charlie Taylor
Apr 21, 2014 a a
Apr 20, 2014 Babsy Lepaja
Apr 20, 2014 Rick Freeman
Apr 20, 2014 Chalette Jackson
Apr 19, 2014 kathleen bird
Apr 19, 2014 Cindy Clark
Apr 19, 2014 Roswitha Gistl
Apr 19, 2014 Tanja Gistl
Apr 19, 2014 Larysa Oleynych
Apr 19, 2014 bizhan aminipour
Apr 18, 2014 Bettina Taiana
Apr 17, 2014 Jaynee Harpe
Apr 17, 2014 Robin Layman-Atkins
Apr 17, 2014 Connie Manning
Apr 17, 2014 Christine DiSimone STOP KILLING OUR PRECIOUS WILDLIFE!!
Apr 17, 2014 Cynthia Hoel
Apr 17, 2014 KC Coyne
Apr 17, 2014 pello elisabetta
Apr 17, 2014 Sandra Romeiro
Apr 17, 2014 Reinaldo Minillo
Apr 17, 2014 Claudia Köhler-Bluhm
Apr 17, 2014 Krystie Addison
Apr 16, 2014 Sherry Davis
Apr 16, 2014 Ursula Heise
Apr 16, 2014 Renae Moosy
Apr 16, 2014 Kim Haling
Apr 16, 2014 evelyn depypere
Apr 16, 2014 Barbara Schulz Because I am against the senseless slaughter of these wonderful animals.
Apr 16, 2014 Renate Reiter
Apr 16, 2014 Marion van de kar
Apr 16, 2014 Mariela Elmida
Apr 16, 2014 Laura Miller There are imitation ivory that people can use.... This is senseless torture on elephants... Poachers should feel this same hurt!!!!!!

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