The DNA was found in trinkets seized from the Cambodian domestic market alongside items made with ivory from endangered Asian and vulnerable African elephants. Scientists at the RZSS’s WildGenes laboratory at Edinburgh Zoo have been pioneering the use of genetic data to tackle wildlife crime. Their aim is to develop a conservation genetics laboratory in Cambodia’s -capital, Phnom Penh, to determine the origin of ivory finding its way to the marketplace.
Dr Alex Ball, WildGenes programme manager, said: “It was a surprise for us to find trinkets made from woolly mammoth ivory in circulation, especially so early into our testing and in a tropical country like Cambodia.
“It is very hard to say what the implications of this finding are for existing elephant populations, however we plan to continue our research and will use genetics to work out where it has come from.”
He added: “It is estimated that globally over 30,000 elephants are killed every year for their ivory and it appears there are increasing amounts of ivory for sale in Cambodia. However there seems to be no evidence of poaching in -Cambodia’s own wild elephant populations.
“Understanding where the ivory is -coming from is vital for enforcement agencies looking to block illegal trade routes.
“If we can use genetics to identify where elephants are being killed for their ivory, measures can be taken to protect those most at risk of persecution.”
Source : EXPRESS