Illegal poaching of some 30,000 elephants a year for their ivory tusks threatens the animals with extinction. University of Utah geochemists developed a new way to fight poaching of elephants, hippos, rhinos and other animals. Carbon-14 from 1950s and 1960s nuclear weapons tests was and still is deposited in animals' tusks or teeth, and those carbon-14 levels reveal the year an animal died, and thus whether the ivory was taken before or after international bans on ivory trading.University of Washington More than 90 percent of ivory in large, seized shipments comes from elephants that died less than three years before, research shows. Scientists came to the conclusion by combining a new approach to radiocarbon dating for ivory samples with genetic analysis tools that gave conservationists a picture of when and where poachers are killing elephants. Both measures aimed to curtail the widespread poaching of elephants, whose numbers have plummeted since the 1980s.
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