Fighting Elephant Poaching With Science

Posted on February 26, 2007  Comments (2)

DNA Technology Leads Scientists to Locations of Elephant Poaching:

The illegal trade in elephant ivory continues unabated despite the fact that it was banned by international convention in 1989. In an effort to hunt down poachers who slaughter thousands of elephants a year for the animals’ tusks, scientists have turned to DNA technology to narrow the search.

But to pinpoint the precise origin of the tusks can tell authorities where elephants are being slaughtered and which routes are being used to transport the illegal tusks. Armed with this information, the enforcement authorities would find it easier to track down poachers.

Wasser led a group of researchers who performed a DNA analysis on 67 tusks confiscated in the 2002 Singapore seizure. The genetic material was compared to an existing database of elephant DNA. The researchers determined with near “100 percent accuracy” that the poached elephants came from the savanna within a narrow band of Southern Africa — possibly extending from Mozambique to Angola — with Zambia at its center.

Excellent use of science to gain knowledge which can help determine where best to put effort to counteract poaching.

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2 Responses to “Fighting Elephant Poaching With Science”

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