DNA To Help Save Elephant Lives

Two elephant poaching spots for the illegal trade have been identified after ivory was seized from traffickers.

Scientists tested the ivory for DNA and tracked its location to Africa, they are hopeful that this development will result in a crackdown on the illegal trade which is diminishing the population of Earths largest land animal.

Two elephants were identified after genetic testing was done on the 28 ivories seized from traffickers, which weighed half a ton each, the savanna elephant and the smaller forest elephant, both from Africa.


Biologist Samuel Wasser showed his surprise that all of the ivories seized in the last decade pointed to just two places in Africa.

Gathering samples from elephants across the continents, the scientists were able to devise a map based on DNA traits. This map shows where each population of the elephant live and this is how they matched the DNA from the captured ivories and were able to identify a location.

The tusks of the savanna elephants were from parts of southeastern Tanzania and northern Mozambique and the forest elephant tusks came from areas of northeastern Gabon northwestern Republic of Congo and southwestern Central African Republic.


Wasser was sure that once these areas were cracked down upon by law enforcers , there would be a huge decline in poaching-related mortality in Africa.

He further went to state that without immediate action against this illegal activity will cause major populations of the elephant to be poached to endangerment. The statistics show that 50,000 African elephants are killed in a year by traffickers, and only 470,000 elephants remain.

In 1989 a law was established banning ivory trade worldwide, but sadly the illegal tade stil continues with the demand being high in China, Asian countries and the US.

Bill Clark of Interpol’s environmental crime department said that the DNA research will help identify the location so that his organization can decide where to focus efforts for combating this trade. Indication of the trade being used to finance militants and terrorism are abundant.


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