New study reveals who is fueling ivory trade

New study reveals who is fueling ivory trade

A fresh carbon-dating study has revealed that ivory trade is not being fuelled by government-controlled sales of old tusks; rather it is being fuelled almost totally by recently killed elephants.

A team of researchers led by Thure Cerling, a geochemist at the University of Utah, conducted a carbon study of seized shipments of elephant tusks and found that 90 per cent of those tusks were extracted from African elephants that died or were killed less than three years ago.

Cerling and his colleagues reached the conclusion after measuring the decay of carbon-14 isotopes in a total of 231 ivory tusks that were confiscated between 2002 and 2014.

Sharing findings of their study, Cerling added, “This is another method of seeing what’s happening, independent of the elephant count. It corroborates the count. It helps us to understand fundamental dynamics in ivory trafficking.”

Killings of elephants continue despite government’s claims that they have taken strict actions to protect the largest territorial animal. The African country of Tanzania claims that it has hiked penalties for poaching, while the Asian country of China introduced strict restrictions on ivory trade last year. But, those efforts have apparently failed to discourage poachers.

Africa’s elephant population is particularly at risk, as it shrank from 526,000 to 415,000 between 2006 and 2015. As per the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s most recent African Elephant Status Report, Tanzania alone lost 60 per cent of its elephant population in the past three years due to poaching.


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