People, Environment

Elephant Poaching Hotspots Identified

Elephant Poaching Hotspots IdentifiedElephant Poaching Hotspots Identified

Most illegally poached African elephant ivory can be traced back to just two areas of Africa, research shows.

Scientists were able to locate the hotspots by matching the DNA fingerprint of seized ivory to DNA profiles from the dung of elephants living throughout the continent.

Around 50,000 elephants are thought to be poached each year, BBC reported.

The worst area for poaching was identified as Tanzania and nearby parts of Mozambique.

The Tridom, which spans parts of Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon, was also highlighted.

Researchers say the data, published in Science, may increase international pressure to stop the killing.

On Friday, the US government tried to send out a message against the illicit sale of elephant ivory by destroying one ton of elephant ivory in New York’s Times Square. In March, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta set fire to 15 tons of elephant ivory as part of the East African nation’s efforts to curb poaching.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora banned the international trade in ivory in 1989, but a black market trade continues to thrive.

Ivory is used for trinkets, souvenirs and also in traditional medicines.

With an estimated population of less than half a million, the ongoing African poaching problem is rapidly driving the animal towards extinction, according to some conservationists.

International efforts to stop the ivory pipeline focus on points of sale and tightening up controls at potential shipping routes.

But, Samuel Wasser, a conservation biologist from the University of Washington and lead researcher on the Science paper, thinks other measures might be more effective.

“The source populations are where it all starts, and to be able to focus on the source populations, especially the major source populations, is very effective at trying to target these killings,” Wasser said.

Wasser hopes that the weight of evidence will force the international community to put pressure on these countries to “clean up their act” and to be made more accountable by government aid agencies and private donors.