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Genetic Assignment of Large Seizures of Elephant Ivory Reveals Africa's Major Poaching Hotspots

NCJ Number
Science Volume: 349 Issue: 6243 Dated: July 2015 Pages: 84-87
S.K. Wasser; L. Brown; C. Mailand; S. Mondol; C. Laurie; B.S. Weir
Date Published
July 2015
4 pages

This project genetically assigned origin to 28 large ivory seizures (=0.5 metric tons) made between 1996 and 2014 and also tested assignment accuracy.


Poaching of elephants is now occurring at rates that threaten African populations with extinction. Identifying the number and location of Africa's major poaching hotspots may assist efforts to end poaching and facilitate recovery of elephant populations. Results of the current study suggest that the major poaching hotspots in Africa may be currently concentrated in as few as two areas. Increasing law enforcement in these two hotspots could help curtail future elephant losses across Africa and disrupt this organized transnational crime. (Publisher abstract modified)