Carbon dating in the ivory trade

01 May

The rapid decline in elephants across Africa has been attributed to the high poaching rates and increased amount of ivory seized over the last decade or so (3).Total global seizures in excess of 40 tons of ivory have occurred in several years since 2010 (8), with over 70% of all ivory seizures exceeding 0.5 ton (hereafter termed “large seizures” or “large ivory seizures”).The bomb curve has a “rising” and a “falling” limb: rapidly increasing in the late 1950s, peaking in the early 1960s with the crest in the SH occurring after that in the NH, then gradually diminishing to the current F.19), one with the outer dentine on the rising limb (between 19) and the inner dentine on the falling limb (between 1965 and the present), and one entirely on the falling limb (both after 1965).Carbon-14 is an important tool in understanding patterns of movement of illegal wildlife products.The illegal trade in elephant ivory has increased significantly in the past decade (1, 2), with studies estimating the current rate of decline of regional African elephant populations to be as high as 8%, primarily due to poaching (3, 4).Future calibrations for ivory, or for other wildlife products, to obtain “age” determinations using F Ivory for date-of-death determination was sampled from the pulp cavity of tusks (the proximal end of the tusk; Fig. S2), which is where new ivory (dentine) was forming when the elephant died and thus most accurately records the date of death.Example of sample from pulp cavity section of specimen SGP-1-2.

This indicates that the assumption of recent elephant death for mortality estimates of African elephants is correct: Very little “old” ivory is included in large ivory shipments from Africa.

Savanna elephants have also experienced massive population declines, particularly in Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

The savanna elephant population in the Selous Wildlife Reserve in Tanzania saw a 66% decline from 2009 to 2013 (7).

We found only one specimen of the 231 analyzed to have a lag time longer than 6 y.

Patterns of trade differ by regions: East African ivory, based on genetic assignments of geographic origin, has a much higher fraction of “rapid” transit than ivory originating in the Tridom region of Cameroon–Gabon–Congo.