There’s a new weapon in the fight to stop elephant poaching: genetics. DNA testing, which is frequently used to solve crimes, has pinpointed where most of Africa’s elephants are being slaughtered.
The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal and is vital to the environment in which it lives. But the elephant population is shrinking fast, as demand for illegal ivory remains high, especially in Asia.
University of Washington biology professor Sam Wasser and his colleagues conducted the ivory DNA research. They tested samples seized by authorities between 1996 and 2014.
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“We are currently losing an estimated 50,000 African elephants a year to poaching. And there’s only about 470,000 elephants remaining in the population. So, that’s about a tenth of the population being lost each year,” he said.