Most Ivory Comes From Elephants Killed In Past Three Years Reveals Carbon Dating

Posted: Nov 7 2016, 10:56pm CST | by , in Latest Science News


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Most Ivory Comes From Elephants Killed in Past Three Years Reveals Carbon Dating
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Elephants poaching is not contained. Illegal ivory in the market is from elephants killed recently.

Where there is a market, someone will supply it. That is sadly true for ivory and despite government efforts, elephants are still killed for their tusks. A new study revealed using carbon dating that most ivory in circulation is less than three years old.

The study used Carbon-14 measurements on 231 elephant ivory specimens from 14 large ivory seizures (≥0.5 ton) made between 2002 and 2014. The data shows that most ivory (ca. 90%) was derived from animals that had died less than 3 years before ivory was confiscated.

Very little “old” ivory is included in large ivory shipments from Africa. The scientists found only one specimen of the 231 analyzed to was older than 6 years.

The patterns of trade differ by regions. East African ivory, based on genetic assignments of geographic origin, has a much higher fraction of “rapid” transit than ivory originating in the Tridom region of Cameroon–Gabon–Congo. Carbon-14 is an important tool in understanding patterns of movement of illegal wildlife products. The results of the study are published in paper in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The WWF has recently done a study that shows that conserving elephants in Africa would be much more economically reasonable than poaching elephants. When poaching is on the rise, tourism goes down.

The study shows that the amount of tourism dollars lost because of the current poaching crisis is, in many places, greater than the amount of money needed to fund antipoaching efforts to stop the decline of elephants and keep tourists visiting.

“While there have always been strong moral and ethical arguments for conserving elephants, not everyone shares this viewpoint,” said Dr. Robin Naidoo, lead wildlife scientist at WWF and lead author on the study. “Our research now shows that investing in elephant conservation is actually smart economic policy for many African countries.”

African countries lose approximately $25 million annually in tourism revenue due to current levels of elephant poaching according to WWF. Only if selling ivory becomes less attractive than other income it will stop and elephants can roam Africa in peace.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Manfred "Luigi" Lugmayr () is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 25 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets, tech and online shopping. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology news and tech and toy shopping hub.
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