Ivory from the tusks of elephants killed several decades ago appears on the illegal market. This was announced by scientists who conducted DNA analysis. According to the BBC website, it was ivory that had been seized from poachers in the past and stored in guarded warehouses in Burundi. There is evidence that this commodity is being traded again.

Government Warehouse Leaks

In various parts of Africa, poachers killed a hundred thousand elephants for their tusks between 2007 and 2016. In 2015, tusks with Burundian markings began to appear on the black market. However, Burundian authorities say the government warehouse is secure.

In this African country, the ivory trade has been banned since 1987, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has banned the trade in ivory since 1989. The Burundi warehouse was inspected by scientists in 2004. It contained 84 tons of ivory from 15 thousand tusks stored in seven sealed containers.

Ivory on Black Market

The study looked at samples of ivory seized in four major raids between 2017 and 2019. In addition to DNA tests, carbon dating was also used, and it found that most of the seized ivory came from elephants killed in the previous three years. But one seized shipment contained ivory from animals killed more than thirty years ago.

From the marks left on the pegs, it could be determined that they were from a government warehouse in Burundi. “Those containers need to be opened and the contents checked. The government says the weight is still the same. So does that mean they’re putting ivory on the black market and replacing what’s taken with new?” said Samuel Wasser, a conservation expert at the University of Washington.

The researchers noted that many African states have stored confiscated ivory since the ban on trading in the commodity. The question is why some countries do this instead of destroying and burning the ivory. Warehouses are an attraction for poachers and thieves.

Source: bbc.com/news/science-environment-63288389

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