John Frederick Walker

A New Reference Database to Identify Origin of Elephant Ivory: Implications for Ivory Trading

Posted in elephant and ivory news, ivory news by JFW on November 29, 2010

ScienceDaily reports that scientists at at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz are working on an innovative reference database to allow the identification of the origin of elephant ivory.  The research sounds encouraging—it could be a useful tool in the fight against illegal trade in ivory.

But the report also suggests how more precise ivory identification in the future might also make a limited, regulated and workable ivory trade possible.  Here’s the key passage in the section “Trade as necessity—the necessity of trade”:

“…the countries of the southern part of Africa in particular are increasingly arguing that they should be allowed to trade freely in ivory from the stocks they already hold so that they can raise the finances they urgently need for nature conservancy measures. Unfortunately, this method of generating income would not be without its problems: If free trade is permitted, it would become increasingly difficult to differentiate between legal and illegal ivory at the point of sale and the legalized trade could be used as a cover for ivory smuggling and poaching. Isotope maps provide an effective way of resolving this dilemma.”

From: “Reference database to identify origin of elephant ivory.” ScienceDaily 26 November 2010. 29 November 2010 <http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2010/11/101126094538.htm>

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