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    Dear President Xi Jinping,

    We write to you today on behalf of global citizens to ask for your help in saving the elephants of Africa.

    First, we would like to congratulate you on your leadership of one of the world’s most influential and powerful nations, a position which gives you and China the capacity to shape the future in ways that most other countries are not able to do. Because of this global position, the international community looks increasingly to China for leadership in many areas, including combating wildlife trafficking.

    As you know, Africa’s wildlife is in crisis, with the number of elephants lost to poaching higher than ever before, and with many other species being poached and trafficked in ever-escalating and unsustainable numbers. Recent scientific reports have determined that 100,000 elephants were killed over 3 years between 2010 and 2012, and it may be significantly higher than that.  Best estimates suggest that fewer than 400,000 elephants survive in Africa. This is nothing short of catastrophic.

    Many countries play a part in this tragedy. However, according to the United Nations CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora), most of the poached ivory finds its way to China, where the demand for ivory has soared in recent years, as China’s growing middle-class citizens become increasingly affluent and seek to acquire ‘high-status’ items. Unless urgent actions are taken by the international community, and China in particular, to stop this demand, the killing of elephants will continue unabated and could lead to their extinction in much of their range areas within a short time – possibly as little as 10 years.

    So there is very little time left for these remarkable creatures who share so many traits with our own species – a great intelligence, a deep emotional capacity, a long period of nurturing and educating their young, innate deference to their elders, and intense grieving when they lose a member of their family or herd. Furthermore, elephants are a keystone species upon which many other animal and plant species depend, fulfilling a vital role in the ecological balance of the environments in which they are found.

    Now the world is looking to you, Mr. President, and to your great country, to take action to end all ivory trade in China – to stop using elephant tusks in the carving factories (and move to alternative production such as stone or synthetic materials that are environmentally and ethically acceptable), to outlaw the buying and selling of ivory, and to educate your citizens about the true deadly cost of ivory.

    This is a decision that is in your hands and not one that needs the approval of bodies such as CITES, which allows individual nations to enact stricter domestic measures as they see fit.

    You have already shown yourself to be an extraordinary and forward-thinking leader. In advancing the Chinese Dream 中国,you lead a country that has achieved astonishing progress in the past 30 years, the result of your people’s capacity to embrace new ideas and actions that modify – and remove where necessary – old and outdated ways of thinking.

    Ivory products are a luxury commodity that encourages extravagant consumption, socially irresponsible spending, and illegal practices, all of which run counter to your fiscally responsible and anti-corruption policies. The buying and trading of ivory surely belongs in the past, not in a modern and progressive China.

    China is now in the forefront of humanity’s march into the 21st century, and it will earn international respect and appreciation if it can bring to an end a tradition that is based on the brutal killing of tens of thousands of African elephants each year and the potential demise of a species.

    China has a long tradition of compassion and reverence for all forms of life and the natural world, a tradition reflected in the recent introduction of the concept of animal welfare into China’s 1989 Wildlife Protection Law, signaling a major advance in global wild animal protection.

    It is no secret how ivory is obtained, and the brutal chain of killing, criminality and violence that characterizes the ivory trade. The illegal ivory trade also exacerbates corruption and weak governance in Africa, and deprives African communities of the natural heritage and sustainable economic development they depend on. If the Chinese people were to know of the terrible suffering of elephants who are butchered for their tusks – often while still alive – and the devastating social and economic impacts inflicted upon the African communities, they would certainly feel anguish and compassion and a desire to bring poaching to an end.

    We believe your people, as well as the global community, would welcome your decision to ban a trade that perpetuates so much cruelty and, as a consequence, a negative image of China internationally.

    Mr. President, you have been called upon to lead your country at this critical moment in its history – to lead your people into a new age of prosperity and national revitalization, and to show the world China’s true greatness and potential. This greatness can be measured not only by the remarkable economic progress China has made in such a short time, but in the character of its people and in their compassion for the natural world.

    Mr. President, we urge and implore you to act decisively to finally end China’s domestic ivory trade (both legal and illegal), and to consider the many ways this will serve China’s long-term political and economic interests. We ask that you make this historic decision as a matter of the utmost urgency and cement your lasting legacy as one of the truly enlightened leaders of our time – a leader whom future generations will speak of with respect, admiration and gratitude.

    The elephants of Africa are dying in their tens of thousands every year to provide ivory for misguided consumers in China and elsewhere. Without your help, they will continue to perish and be pushed towards extinction.

    The world awaits your decision.


    Denise Dresner

    For Action for Elephants UK


    And we the undersigned:

    Sir David Attenborough
    Naturalist and broadcaster

    Dr. Richard Leakey
    Founder, Kenya Wildlife Service
    Former Head of Kenya’s Civil Service and
    Secretary to Cabinet in Kenya

    Will Travers OBE
    President, Born Free Foundation

    Virginia McKenna OBE Hon Dr Science
    Founder, Born Free Foundation

    Adam Roberts
    CEO Born Free USA

    David Shepherd CBE
    Founder and President of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

    Rob Brandford
    Director, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust iworry Campaign

    Charlie Mayhew MBE
    Chief Executive, Tusk Trust

    Richard Bonham
    Director of Operations, Big Life Foundation

    Ian Redmond OBE Hon Dr Science
    Ambassador, UNEP Convention on Migratory Species
    Co-founder ELEFRIENDS with the Born Free Foundation

    Simon Jones
    Founder and Chairman, Helping Rhinos

    Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    Petter Granli and Dr Joyce Poole
    Co-Founders, ElephantVoices

    Yvette Taylor
    International Executive Director, Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization

    Sport Beattie
    Founder and CEO, Game Rangers International

    Dr Trevor Jones
    Southern Tanzania Elephant Project (STEP)

    Stephanie Vergniault
    Founder & Executive Director, SOS Elephants

    Elizabeth Chitwood
    President and Founder, Elephantopia

    Andrea Crosta
    Executive Director & Co-Founder, Elephant Action League (EAL)

    Philip Mansbridge
    UK Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

    Dominic Dyer
    CEO, Badger Trust
    Policy Advisor, Care for the Wild

    Ingrid E. Newkirk
    Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

    Claire Bass
    Executive Director, Humane Society International – UK

    Jan Creamer
    President, Animal Defenders International (ADI)

    Allan Thornton OBE
    President, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)

    Paula Kahumbu
    Executive Director, Wildlife Direct

    Brian Davies
    CEO and Founder, Network For Animals

    Alan Knight OBE
    CEO, International Animal Rescue

    Joe Duckworth
    Chief Executive, League Against Cruel Sports

    Reute Butler
    President, Friends of Conservation

    Laurene K. Knowles
    Founder and President, Elemotion Foundation

    Elaine Toland
    Director, Animal Protection Agency

    Dr Mark Pilgrim
    Director General, The North of England Zoological Society

    Stephanie Hilborne OBE
    Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts

    Sundari SitaRam
    Executive Director, Heart of Ganesh

    Noor Santosian
    Founder, Africa Nomads Conservation

    Salisha Chandra
    Founding member, KUAPO (Kenyans United Against Poaching)

    Riccardo Garbaccio
    Chairman, Conservation Lower Zambezi

    Jonathan Vaughan
    General Manager, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust

    Edwin Wiek
    Founder and Director, Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand

    Dr Dan Lyons
    CEO, Centre for Animals and Social Justice

    Janet Thomas
    Founder and Chairperson, Animal Aid Abroad Inc.

    Geert Drieman
    Wildlife Friends International, The Netherlands

    Gary Hills
    Director, Fox in Parliament

    Carla Geyser
    Founder, Blue Sky Society Trust

    Max and Josh Kauderer
    Founders, Elephant Highway

    Ciaran Mundy and Dominic Neate
    Trustees, One World Wildlife

    Raabia Hawa
    Founder, Walk With Rangers

    Joanna Lumley OBE

    Ricky Gervais
    Writer and comedian

    Bill Bailey
    Comedian, actor, author

    James Littlewood
    Director, Natural History Society of Northumbria

    Stanley Johnson
    Former MEP, author and conservationist

    Nicky Campbell
    TV and radio presenter

    Bill Oddie
    Broadcaster and conservationist

    Steve Leonard
    Veterinary surgeon and TV Presenter

    Steve Backshall
    Naturalist and writer

    Bishop of St Albans

    Members of UK Parliament:

    Sir David Amess
    MP, Southend West

    Norman Baker
    MP, Lewes

    Richard Benyon
    MP, Newbury
    Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DEFRA 2010-2013

    Clive Betts
    MP, Sheffield South East

    Ben Bradshaw
    MP, Exeter

    Russell Brown
    MP, Dumfries and Galloway

    Fiona Bruce
    MP, Congleton

    Alan Campbell
    MP, Tynemouth

    Ronnie Campbell
    MP, Blyth Valley

    Geraint Davies
    MP, Swansea West

    Mark Durkan
    MP, Foyle

    Roger Godsiff
    MP, Birmingham Hall Green

    Zac Goldsmith
    MP, Richmond Park

    Mike Hancock
    MP, Portsmouth South

    Martin Horwood
    MP, Cheltenham

    Glenda Jackson
    MP, Hampstead and Kilburn

    Dame Tessa Jowell
    MP, Dulwich & West Norwood

    Jeremy Lefroy
    MP, Stafford
    Chairman of the All-party Parliamentary Group on Tanzania

    Naomi Long
    MP, Belfast East

    Tim Loughton
    MP, East Worthing and Shoreham

    Anne Main
    MP, St Albans

    John Mann
    MP, Bassetlaw

    John McDonnell
    MP, Hayes and Harlington

    Graeme Morrice
    MP, Livingston

    Greg Mulholland
    MP, Leeds North West

    Neil Parish
    MP, Tiverton and Honiton

    John Pugh
    MP, Southport

    John Randall
    MP, Uxbridge and South Ruislip

    Andrew Rosindell
    MP, Romford

    Dame Joan Ruddock
    MP, Lewisham Deptford

    Adrian Sanders
    MP, Torbay

    Virendra Sharma
    MP, Ealing and Southall

    Henry Smith
    MP, Crawley

    John Spellar
    MP, Warley

    Justin Tomlinson
    MP, North Swindon

    Mike Wood
    MP, Batley and Spen

    UK House of Lords:

    Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

    Lord Judd

    Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett

    Professor Lord May of Oxford OM, AC, Kt, FRS
    Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

    Lord Stoddart of Swindon

    Members of European Parliament:

    Catherine Bearder
    MEP, South East England

    Molly Scott Cato
    MEP, South West England

    Eleonora Evi
    MEP, Italy

    Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy
    MEP, Netherlands

    Benedek Jávor
    MEP, Hungary

    Jean Lambert
    MEP, London

    Pavel Poc
    MEP, Czech Republic

    Keith Taylor
    MEP, South East Region

    Ivo Vajgl
    MEP, Slovenia

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