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Nearly all of the analyzed ivory had a lag time of around 2-3 years, suggesting that the shipments did not come from stockpiles or from old sources, but rather that large shipments of ivory are likely composed of recently poached pieces.
“This work demonstrates that little or no ‘old’ ivory, like that held in government stockpiles, is ending up on the black market, which is good news for the security and monitoring of those stockpiles,” Chesson says.
“The extinction of elephants and other wildlife due to demand for illegal wildlife products is a major problem,” Cerling says.
“I’m glad we can apply the latest science to that and that I can be part of it.” This work was funded by grants from the Paul G.
For a radiocarbon value measured in a sample S (Fs), bomb radiocarbon delivers two possible calendar dates (T1 and T2), indicated by the grey boxes (Hua, 2009).
“Sometimes, many of the tusks are so small that you can’t understand why the animal was even killed,” he says.
“Tusks can weigh less than one pound, with almost no carvable ivory on them.” The story of the evidence Of the 231 samples Wasser collected, only one returned an age of greater than 6 years between the time of the elephant’s death and the seizure of the ivory (lag time).
“If all of the seizures are really recent, within the past two to three years, we can use that to determine the overall killing rate of elephants is in Africa,” Cerling says.
It is vital to stop the killing of elephants for their ivory, a feat made more difficult by the emergence of Asian markets within the last two decades.