Seized ivory to undergo DNA tests to track trade

Mar 13, 2013
Seized ivory tusks are displayed during a Hong Kong Customs press conference on January 4, 2013. Countries making large seizures of illegal ivory will be required to conduct DNA tests to determine their origin under new anti-trafficking measures.

Countries making large seizures of illegal ivory will be required to conduct DNA tests to determine their origin under new anti-trafficking measures adopted on Wednesday.

The agreement at a major wildlife conservation conference in Bangkok follows a surge in poaching of the African elephant to the worst levels since international ivory trade was banned in 1989.

Conservationists say origin, transit and consumer countries are all struggling to tackle involved in the lucrative trade.

In order to better track the illicit commerce, a nation that makes a seizure of at least 500 kilos of ivory should take samples and analyse them within 90 days, according to a resolution adopted by 178 member countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Modern laboratories can determine "fairly exactly where the elephant has been killed", according to Peter Pueschel of the conservation group International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The tests will help detect "the middlemen and the kingpin behind the crimes", and to locate poaching hotspots to enable increased efforts to protect those elephants still alive, he said.

The agreement—under which all major seizures made within the past 24 months should also undergo where possible—was hailed as a "major success" by Kenya.

"Ivory that has been seized from Africa—whether it is in Zimbabwe (or) in Malaysia—we'll be able to trace the origin of ivory," said Kenyan delegate Patrick Omondi.

in ivory has doubled since 2007 and more than tripled over the past 15 years, according to wildlife groups, which estimate that only about 420,000 to 650,000 elephants remain in Africa.

Conservationists fear that 2012 was an even deadlier year than 2011, when an estimated 25,000 were killed.

In Thailand, a top market, criminals exploit legal trade in tusks from domesticated to sell illicit stocks of African ivory.

Explore further: Bodies of 500 sea lions found on Peruvian beach

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Record ivory seizures in 2011: watchdog

Dec 29, 2011

The past 12 months has seen a record number of large ivory seizures across the world, confirming a sharp increase in the illegal trade in recent years, a wildlife watchdog said Thursday.

African elephants face 'alarming declines'

Mar 06, 2013

African elephants face the worst crisis since global trade in ivory was banned almost a quarter-century ago, with the risk of extinction rising in worst-hit nations, conservationists said Wednesday.

Malaysia seizes million-dollar ivory shipment

Dec 13, 2011

Malaysia has seized elephant tusks and ivory handicrafts worth an estimated four million ringgit ($1.3 million) en route from Kenya to Cambodia, a customs official said Tuesday.

Heat on Thailand as wildlife conference starts

Mar 02, 2013

Global conservationists will converge in Bangkok for the start of key endangered species talks on Sunday, as host Thailand faces pressure to curb rampant ivory smuggling through its territory.

Recommended for you

Seychelles poachers go nutty for erotic shaped seed

16 hours ago

Under cover of darkness in the steamy jungles of the Seychelles thieves creep out to harvest the sizeable and valuable nuts of the famous coco de mer palm, and their activities are threatening its long-term ...

Laser scanning accurately 'weighs' trees

Nov 21, 2014

A terrestrial laser scanning technique that allows the structure of vegetation to be 3D-mapped to the millimetre is more accurate in determining the biomass of trees and carbon stocks in forests than current ...

Cameras detect 'extinct' wallabies near Broome

Nov 21, 2014

Yawuru Country Managers have found a spectacled hare wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus) population, a species which for the last decade was feared to be locally extinct at Roebuck Plains, adjacent to Broome.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.