2015-06-19. The Sequencer is Mightier than the Sword.

posted Jun 19, 2015, 3:18 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Jun 19, 2015, 3:19 PM ]
By Brian Palmer, onEarth, Natural Resources Defense Council. For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 4. Excerpt: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service brought a ton of ivory to Times Square this morning—and crushed it into tiny pieces. The service hopes to send a message to poachers and traders that the United States is committed to protecting elephants and curtailing the ivory business. ...New York City is one of the country’s biggest hubs for the illegal ivory trade. ...Elephants range more than one million square miles of Africa. Policing an area that size is nearly impossible. ...study released yesterday in the journal Science ...University of Washington biologist and elephant ivory expert Samuel Wasser analyzed 28 major ivory seizures between 1996 and 2014. Comparing the confiscated ivory’s DNA with DNA collected from elephant dung of known origin, Wasser found that poachers have narrowed their hunting grounds substantially over the past decade. Almost all the forest elephant ivory in Wasser’s sample came from a single protected ecosystem.... The ivory from elephants living on savannahs also came from a limited area, located mostly in Tanzania but spilling into northern Mozambique. This research is a gift to the anti-poaching effort. ...According to United Nations data, the illegal wildlife trade is now worth $20 billion per year, making it one of the world’s largest forms of organized crime. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora announced that elephant poaching rates remained unchanged between 2013 and 2014, at a level that exceeds the species’ natural growth rate. Some estimates put elephant-poaching deaths at 96 each day, putting the animal on a steady decline into extinction. Rebel groups and poachers attack, torture, and murder anti-poaching police with alarming regularity. One watchdog group claims that at least two park rangers are killed every week.... http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/ivory-dna-study-elephant-poachers