Ivory Seized Decades Ago Is Still Being Discovered In Raids
Researchers have found elephant ivory seized decades ago is still being discovered in raids. The Burundian authorities have been keeping the tusks in storage for some time now after seizing them from poachers.
Researchers in this study employed DNA and carbon dating to prove that some of the stockpiled materials had made their way into the hands of traffickers. The authors argue that confiscated materials should not be kept in archives.
Somewhere, about 100,000 elephants were slaughtered for their tusks in various regions of Africa between 2007 and 2016. Four large seizures carried out by law enforcement were used as samples for the research, which covered the years 2017–2019.
Researchers determined that the vast majority of the ivory they had obtained came from elephants that had been slaughtered during the past three years by using procedures that measured the presence of an isotope called carbon-14.
On the other hand, most of the ivory in one haul belonged to elephants that had died more than three decades before. These markings were found on tusks that were taken from what was said to be a safe government warehouse in Burundi.
COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/ebv/ivory-seized-decades-ago-is-still-being-discovered-in-raids/ by Daisy-Mae Schmitt on 2022-10-19T04:37:50.315Z
Since 2015, markings showing that the drugs came from Burundi have been found in a number of seizures in different parts of the world. The BBC has asked Burundi's environment ministry for a comment, but it hasn't heard back about the stockpile yet.
In the past, the government has assured scientists that their supplies were safe.
Prof. Samuel Wasser of the University of Washington, a specialist in conservation biology and author of this new research, stated, "Those containers need to be re-opened and the stock that is stored inside has to be re-tested."
Since the government claims that the containers' weights have remained constant, one could wonder whether the smugglers are merely replacing the ivory they've already sent out with fresh stock. Well, if that's occurring, he told BBC News, "that's extremely horrible."
Theft from stockpiles is also a problem, as was the case in Mozambique in 2016. Experts have also found signs that some of the ivory that was taken away has made its way back to the black market.
As Prof. Wasser stated, "when we sample these confiscated tusks, we remove a tiny square out of the bottom of them," and in at least one seizure, "we noticed that our squares had been taken out," indicating that the smuggled ivory had been analyzed before.
Still, there are many who argue that keeping stocks is acceptable for reasons like study and teaching. The Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI) is currently helping 15 African governments protect and get rid of their ivory reserves.
According to EPI's John Scanlon, "Ivory has little commercial value and that is unlikely to change." Each country has its own set of internal factors that must be taken into account when deciding what the best course of action is.
It must be kept securely and reported if at all possible. Taking forensic samples to trace the origin of ivory is essential if it is destroyed and must be accounted for. "The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Since 1987, Burundi, one of the world's poorest nations, has strictly enforced a prohibition on the trafficking of ivory. Experts in the wildlife trade, Traffic International, had its scientists take a look at the stocks in 2004 and found that they weighed about 84 tons, made up of 15,000 tusks. After that, customs seals were placed on the seven crates containing the ivory.
The results of this study show that many African governments still have stockpiles of ivory that they seized before it became illegal to trade in ivory. Since the selling of confiscated ivory is forbidden by international conventions, several experts are wondering why they are doing this instead of burning the inventories.