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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: 67,970
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 25, 2014 Monica King
Aug 25, 2014 Laura Ward
Aug 25, 2014 Paula Fleck
Aug 24, 2014 Jia Hui Lee
Aug 24, 2014 Leila Sultan
Aug 24, 2014 Debbie Seiler
Aug 24, 2014 dani waggoner
Aug 24, 2014 Bonnie Beck
Aug 24, 2014 Karen Scrivner
Aug 24, 2014 Michelle Steil
Aug 23, 2014 Amber Wallace
Aug 23, 2014 stacey jackson
Aug 23, 2014 Brenda Marshall
Aug 23, 2014 laura ornella
Aug 23, 2014 Susan Madden
Aug 22, 2014 Wendy Howard The natural environment is being destroyed due to the ignorance of human beings. Do not you not realize once these beautiful creatures are gone, they're gone.
Aug 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 22, 2014 Maria Albuquerque
Aug 22, 2014 Kimmy Marshall
Aug 22, 2014 Leila Mojab
Aug 22, 2014 Bryna Schreier
Aug 22, 2014 Lisa G.
Aug 22, 2014 Diana Beall Ivory is an unnecessary need at the expense of African elephants. They deserve to live their lives as nature intended without interference by humans. They are killed only for their ivory and this is wrong.
Aug 22, 2014 Margaret M. Ferrance
Aug 22, 2014 Ellen Mass
Aug 22, 2014 Juliet Ganpat
Aug 22, 2014 sandra dulbecco
Aug 22, 2014 Emily Abrams
Aug 22, 2014 Andra Emm
Aug 22, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 22, 2014 Kimberly Bouchard-Shapiro
Aug 21, 2014 Robert Petermann
Aug 21, 2014 Angela Kohn
Aug 21, 2014 Jim Faulks
Aug 21, 2014 Melissa Rodriguez
Aug 20, 2014 Paola Frignani
Aug 20, 2014 Tracey Newman
Aug 20, 2014 rossana mianulli
Aug 20, 2014 Michelle Fullager
Aug 19, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 19, 2014 (Name not displayed)
Aug 19, 2014 Esther Garcia de Diego
Aug 19, 2014 fanny bueb
Aug 19, 2014 Lloyd Johnson
Aug 17, 2014 Karen Jensen-merchant Please let this barbaric practice end. Makes me ashamed of being part of the humane race and I cannot understand why governments allow this to continue
Aug 17, 2014 Christa GORRE
Aug 17, 2014 Maggie Dunn Stop this heartless cruelty of these lovely animals.
Aug 16, 2014 Leopold Marek
Aug 16, 2014 (Name not displayed)

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