Seized ivory probed for clues that could help save elephants
ALBANY, N. Y. — Scientists are using information collected from illegal ivory art and elephant feces to provide clues to help save the lives of thick-skinned animals that are being slaughtered for ivory in Africa. Wildlife detectives work includes cutting seized artifacts, including bracelets and statues of Chinese gods, and carbon dating them to determine when elephants were killed. The DNA in ivory art is then compared to the DNA database extracted from elephant feces to determine where they live. What scientists have learned may not put a poacher in prison, but I will tell you where and when an elephant died on the African prairie, so that its ivory can be carved in Asia, make an antique shop in Manhattan for $72,000. \"It\'s not only very helpful for scientific purposes, but it\'s also able to tell people about the individual lives of elephants, which eventually become works of art on our streets, wendy Hapgood, director of the wildlife Tomorrow Fund, which supports the African Wildlife Sanctuary, said Poaching law enforcement and efforts to close the ivory trade. The group cut off $4 of debris from 21 statues, bracelets and installed ivory. In last August, 5 million pieces of illegal ivory were seized at an antique store in Manhattan and dramatically destroyed in a stone crusher in Central Park. Scientists at the University of Columbia and the University of Washington will analyze the chips. Previous work by researchers provided valuable information to focus on poaching enforcement in Africa and to prosecute ivory traffickers elsewhere. According to a census of elephants funded by the wildlife organization, the number of African elephants once exceeded the number of heads, but fell by 2014 between 2007 and 350,000, to about one. The rate of decline is 8 percentage points per year, mainly due to poaching of ivory. Since 1990, ivory sales across international borders have been banned. Last year, the US governmentS. The Fish and Wildlife Administration has established a near Domestic commercial ivory trade is banned and cross-state sales are prohibited. Harpgood and colleague John Stuart recently saw two huge ivory samples in Albany that were retained by the Central Park crusher and locked in the State Department\'s environmental protection warehouse. The chips will be sent to Columbia University geochemist Kevin Uno, whose radioisotope analysis measures carbon. The ivory stored with the atomic bomb was tested to determine when the elephant died. The sample was also sent to the University of Washington biologist Sam Vaser, who extracted DNA from elephant feces across Africa in the 1990 s, mapping Elephant genetics across the continent. Now he will compare the DNA of the seized ivory with the map to determine where the ivory came from. Uno and his colleagues published a study in 2016 on 230 ivory seized from 15 containers illegally transported in Africa. The goal is to determine whether ivory comes from old stocks held by African governments or from elephants recently poached. \"The ivory we found came from elephants who died within three years of the seizure date,\" Uno said . \". In a study published in 2015, Wasser\'s DNA study of a large number of seized ivory found that the ivory often came from some poaching hotspots. Identifying Tanzania and Zambia as hot spots could help persuade UN agencies to reject requests for ivory stocks to be sold in those countries. DNA and radioisotope analysis can also help Sue traffickers. On 2013, Wasser\'s laboratory, by providing evidence that his ivory was from Cameroon and Gabon, the two worst-hit countries in the elephant massacre, helped to convict Togo of the main sale of ivory trafficking. Radioisotope analysis by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California shows that ivory comes from 2010 elephants recently killed, not before the 1989 ban claimed by human traffickers. \"The major research we have done is about goods that leave Africa,\" Uno said . \". \"Now we start at the retail end, so if they take something from the store, how many of them are recent and how many are old. \"The ultimate goal is to help with law enforcement and policy -- Manufacturers have closed the ivory market and raised public awareness of the plight of houpi animals. \"The extension of this approach is to slow down the killing of elephants and prevent them from extinction,\" Uno said . \".