2013-02-27. Tusk tracking will tackle illegal trade

posted Feb 28, 2013, 2:22 PM by Lisa Ou
 | Daniel Cressey, Nature. Relevant to GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 1. Excerpt:  International treaties meant to protect elephants are not working. Researchers estimate that tens of thousands of African elephants are now being killed by poachers each year, from a total wild population of around 400,000... Nearly 39,000 kilograms of illegal ivory were traded worldwide in 2011, more than at any other time in the 16-year history of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), which tracks the ivory trade for CITES. Another CITES programme, Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants, will report at the meeting that between 3.5% and 11.7% of the total African elephant population was killed by poachers in 2011 — the worst year for illegal killing since the programme began collecting data in 2002....Poachers in Samburu are also switching focus from males to older females and killing entire social groups, says Wittemyer....Scientists argue that an international drive to trace seized ivory back to its origins is urgently needed, so that authorities can curb poaching before elephant populations collapse. There are few reliable estimates of regional elephant numbers, and counting corpses is inaccurate because many are likely to be lost in the vast forests and savannahs of Africa. A team led by Wasser has developed a map of DNA samples collected across Africa1, 2 — often from elephant dung — which it uses to pinpoint the probable origins of seized ivory samples (see ‘Hunting the poachers’).…. Read the full article: http://www.nature.com/news/tusk-tracking-will-tackle-illegal-trade-1.12510