Most il­le­gal ivory from newly killed ele­phants

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

More than 90 per­cent of il­le­gal ivory comes from ele­phants slaugh­tered for their tusks in the last three years, not from old gov­ern­ment stock­piles, ac­cord­ing to a new study re­leased Mon­day. The find­ing by Columbia Univer­sity re­searchers, pub­lished in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences, is based on an anal­y­sis of 231 tusks seized in nine dif­fer­ent coun­tries from 2002 to 2014.

“It shows that ivory is mov­ing through the sys­tem fast,” said study co-au­thor Kevin Uno, a geo­chemist at Columbia Univer­sity’s La­mont-Do­herty Earth Ob­ser­va­tory. “Some of the ele­phants were killed just be­fore their tusks were thrown in the ship­ping con­tainer.” The re­searchers an­a­lyzed rem­nants of the ra­dioac­tive iso­tope car­bon-14 from open-air nu­clear-bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s to help date the tusks.

More than 90 per­cent of the spec­i­mens were from ele­phants killed in the past few years, many of them just in the past sev­eral months, the re­searchers said. “This study shows that once poached, ele­phants are be­ing moved rapidly into trade,” said El­iz­a­beth Ben­nett, Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety vice pres­i­dent for species con­ser­va­tion.

“Il­le­gal ivory isn’t com­ing from old stock­piles, and shows that we just have to close down mar­kets and de­mand.” In­ter­na­tional trade in ivory from ele­phants killed af­ter 1989 has long been banned. But some coun­tries main­tain le­gal do­mes­tic mar­kets. Mean­while, il­licit traf­fick­ing is thriv­ing, with black mar­ket ivory fetch­ing around $1,000 per pound in China. Poach­ers killed 144,000 an­i­mals, nearly 30 per­cent of the con­ti­nent’s sa­van­nah ele­phants, from 2007 to 2014, a re­cent cen­sus of ele­phants in Africa showed. Some 350,000 African ele­phants are be­lieved to re­main in 18 sub-Sa­ha­ran coun­tries. They are con­sid­ered a “vul­ner­a­ble” species on the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture’s Red List. — AFP

BANGKOK: Ele­phants are pa­raded in front of the Grand Palace to pay re­spects to the late Thai King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej. — AFP

NEW OR­LEANS: In this Oct 19, 2016, handout photo photo re­leased by Blan­chard and Com­pany, a gold coin from a 300-year-old ship­wreck dis­cov­ered off Florida’s coast is dis­played. — AP

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