Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tracking The Illegal Ivory Trade: Genetic Test Of Ivory Source Could Help Thwart Elephant Poachers

Date:
November 27, 2003
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
Despite the international ban on selling African elephant ivory, poaching is still widespread. Law enforcers may soon have a new tool for cracking down on elephant poachers: a genetic analysis of ivory can help show which part of Africa it came from.

Despite the international ban on selling African elephant ivory, poaching is still widespread. Law enforcers may soon have a new tool for cracking down on elephant poachers: a genetic analysis of ivory can help show which part of Africa it came from.

"[This method] enables determination of where stronger antipoaching efforts are needed and provides the basis for monitoring the extent of the trade," say Kenine Comstock and Elaine Ostrander of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, and Samuel Wasser of the University of Washington in Seattle in the December issue of Conservation Biology.

African elephants dropped from 1.3 million to 600,000 during the 1980s, and international trade in their ivory was banned in 1989 by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). But poaching still continues and last year the Singapore government seized 6.5 tons of ivory, the largest seizure in the history of the ivory trade. "The flow of illegal ivory appears to have markedly increased in the past year," says Wasser. One of the problems is that poachers can be hard to spot, especially in the forests of Central Africa.

To help track the source of illegal ivory, Comstock and her colleagues extended a genetic test they had developed that can distinguish blood and tissue samples of elephants from different parts of Africa. The test can distinguish forest elephants from savanna elephants, and can even distinguish elephants from different part of the savanna (such as north-central savanna and eastern-southern savanna). Depending on where the elephants came from, the test is 80- 95% accurate.

The researchers adapted their genetic test to ivory, using African elephant tusks that were at least 10-20 years old. Even though tusks are teeth, they still contain some DNA and the researchers found that a small amount of ivory (120 mg, or a cubic centimeter) was enough for the test.

Being able to track the origin of illicit African elephant ivory could help law enforcers pinpoint where poaching is the heaviest, which in turn could both increase ivory seizure rates and deter poachers. In addition, several southern African countries want to relax the ivory ban because they have stores of ivory and lots of elephants. If CITES agrees, being able to track the source of ivory could show if relaxing the ban in southern Africa leads to an increase in elephant poaching in other parts of the continent.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "Tracking The Illegal Ivory Trade: Genetic Test Of Ivory Source Could Help Thwart Elephant Poachers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031126065807.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (2003, November 27). Tracking The Illegal Ivory Trade: Genetic Test Of Ivory Source Could Help Thwart Elephant Poachers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031126065807.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "Tracking The Illegal Ivory Trade: Genetic Test Of Ivory Source Could Help Thwart Elephant Poachers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031126065807.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

San Diego Zoo Welcomes New, Rare Rhino Calf

Reuters - US Online Video (July 21, 2014) An endangered black rhino baby is the newest resident at the San Diego Zoo. Sasha Salama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins