Recent research points out that authorities have been less than successful to curb elephant poaching. The new project in question has been conducted by several US-based Universities.
According to the researchers’ findings, which were published in the Proceeding of the National Academy, all the recent all the ivory discovered in recent raids came from elephants which were killed in the last three years.
Furthermore, the study shows that elephant poaching is not declining in Africa. However, the latest measures have managed to slow down a little the illegal harvesting activities. Still, the damage done over the last decade is more than enough to fuel the fears of researchers regarding the future of the species.
According to the official statistics, between 2002 and 2011, the population of elephants from Central Africa has decreased by 62 percent. In addition, the Sealos Wildlife Reserve from Tanzania reports that due to illegal tusk harvesting, the reservation’s population of elephants has decreased by 66 percent between 2009 and 2013.
In order to investigate the rate of elephant poaching, the team of researchers had to investigate DNA samples taken from 28 caches of ivory, which were confiscated by the local authorities from 1996 to 2004.
These DNA samples were cross-referenced with 1,350 additional DNA samples taken from dung deposits. The latter samples were harvested from 71 locations across Africa. As the scientists explained, this procedure will allow them to create an accurate map of poaching activities in Africa and will greatly aid the authorities track down poachers.
Although the scientific community was skeptical in believing that the ivory caches came from freshly-killed elephants, the team demonstrated that 14 recently confiscated batches originated from elephants that were killed in the last three years.
To prove this point, the scientists extracted an additional 231 DNA sample from the recent batch, which, according to the authorities, has been gathered between 2002 and 2014. Carbon-14 tests have revealed that more than 90 percent of tusks in the batch belonged to elephants killed in the last three years.
Although authorities have yet to find a solution to stop elephant poaching, the good news is that demand for elephant tusks has decreased in Europe and North America, but still growing in Southeast Asia.
To counteract this effect, the Chinese Government and the European Union have taken steps into identifying and destroying any ivory cache.
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