Thursday, Dec 18, 2014Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

 

Scientists reveal new way to track illegal ivory

Published on Jul 2, 2013 6:08 AM
 
A file photo taken on July 20, 2011 shows a Kenya Wildlife Services ranger standing guard in front of an illegal ivory stockpile at Tsavo National Park, southeast of the capital Nairobi. Wildlife crime investigators hope to crack down on illegal elephant killing with a new tool for analysing ivory that uses nuclear test residue to determine the age of a tusk, said a study out on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Wildlife crime investigators hope to crack down on illegal elephant killing with a new tool for analysing ivory that uses nuclear test residue to determine the age of a tusk, said a study out on Monday.

Tens of thousands of elephants are hunted for their ivory each year. As few as 470,000 African elephants remain, making them a vulnerable species while the Asian elephant is endangered and may number about 30,000, experts say.

Despite international agreements that ban most raw ivory trade from Asian elephants after 1975 and African elephants after 1989, the slaughter continues in large part because police lack the means to tell the age of the ivory.

"We've developed a tool that allows us to determine the age of a tusk or piece of ivory, and this tells us whether it was acquired legally," said Dr Kevin Uno, lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

 
If you are not a subscriber, you can get instant, unlimited access here

Videos