New way to track illegal ivory revealed

2013-07-01 22:27

(Noel Celis, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Washington - Wildlife crime investigators hope to crack down on illegal elephant killing with a new tool for tracking illegal ivory that uses nuclear test residue to determine the age of a tusk, said a study out Monday.

Tens of thousands of elephants are hunted for their ivory each year, and just about 423 000 African elephants remain, experts say.

Despite international agreements that ban most raw ivory trade from Asian elephants after 1975 and African elephants after 1989, the slaughter continues in large part because police lack tools to tell the age of the ivory.

"We've developed a tool that allows us to determine the age of a tusk or piece of ivory, and this tells us whether it was acquired legally," said Kevin Uno, lead author of the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Our dating method is affordable for government and law enforcement agencies and can help tackle the poaching and illegal trade crises," said Uno, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University.

The test costs about $500 and uses a technique of analysing the amount of carbon-14 in the animal tissues.

Carbon-14 was formed in the atmosphere by above-ground nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s, conducted by the United States in Nevada and the Soviet Union in Siberia.

Levels peaked in the 1960s and have been declining ever since. The test devised by scientists should be effective for about another 15 years, by which point the atmospheric levels of carbon-14 will return to pre-test norms.

Researchers tested their technique on 29 animal and plant tissues - including elephant tusks, hippo tusks, canine teeth and monkey hair as well as grass from Kenya - each collected on known dates from 1905 to 2008.

They found that various tissues that formed at the same time had the same levels of carbon-14.

The four oldest samples were from animals that died from 1905 to 1953, and they had the least carbon-14 because they died before atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.

"With an accurate age of the ivory, we can verify if the trade is legal or not," said Uno.

"Currently 30 000 elephants a year are slaughtered for their tusks, so there is a desperate need to enforce the international trade ban and reduce demand."

Read more on:    animals  |  poaching
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

7 tips for the ultimate family camping trip

Taking the kids on a camping trip can be one of the most memorable holidays they will ever have!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

BASE jump off the world’s tallest building!
Stand up paddler rides over shark!
Bear Grylls’ top 10 things kids should do outdoors
You HAVE to see this MTB Tsunami Fip!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

20% off Afrikaans books, music and DVDs. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Hot gaming titles – available for pre-order!

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Day Zero Edition, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and more. Pre-order now!

Get a free eBook

Buy 3 eBooks and get the cheapest FREE. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Pushing too hard and doing too much may have left you feeling drained and overwhelmed. You may need time out to recharge and reset...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.