Seized ivory comes almost exclusively from recent poaching: study

Determination of the age of ivory is important for controlling illegal trafficking and the proper identification of ivory artifacts. Radiocarbon dating is the standard method of determining the age of ivories; however, it requires the destruction of a fragment of the sample. Raman spectroscopy is a nondestructive technique, and therefore can be used on artwork. Moreover, Raman measurements can be done using a portable system, and the data analysis can be performed on the spot once the groundwork is done. Ivories contain two primary components: collagen and bioapatite. Raman spectrum of ivory material is mainly a sum of the vibrational bands of these components. As collagen deteriorates with time, its Raman signal decreases; therefore, the ratio of collagen to bioapatite peaks is smaller in the older samples compared to the younger ones, providing a basis for sample dating. We have compared the results of Raman and radiocarbon measurements applied to a set of elephant ivory fragments and have successfully calibrated the Raman data set using radiocarbon measurements. We found that the Raman collagen to bioapatite peak ratios of the samples can be used as a metric to determine their age, providing a nondestructive technique to assess the age of ivory samples.

Ivory carving

African Elephant Credit Wikimedia Commons. Listen Listening New research out of the University of Utah today examines how long it takes poached elephant tusks to reach the illegal ivory market.

Elephant tusks have been the main source of ivory used for such carvings, Many combs, hairpins, and other utensils dating from the predynastic and early on flat slabs of ivory, and sometime after bce they introduced the technique of.

More than 90 percent of ivory in large seized shipments came from elephants that died less than three years before, according to a new University of Utah study. Combining radiocarbon ivory dating with genetic analysis provides a picture of when and where poachers are killing elephants, useful tools in the ongoing battle against illegal animal product trade.

This additional information can be helpful to people trying to address those issues. In June , the United States banned almost all buying or selling of elephant ivory, after Hawaii, California and New York, previous centers of the U. The U. Despite efforts to stop the ivory trade, poaching claims an estimated 8 percent of African elephants each year, or around 96 elephants per day. Demand for elephant ivory and other illegal products derived from endangered animals has grown in Asia in recent years, opening a fresh battleground in the struggle against illegal ivory even as U.

Bans usually allow the sale of ivory that was legally acquired prior to , including heirloom or antique pieces. Confirming the age of those pieces, however, relies on proper documentation. Traders in illegal ivory sometimes use this clause as a cover, claiming that their wares are older than they really are. Cerling and his colleagues applied a forensic science method to objectively estimate the age of samples in seized ivory shipments—radiocarbon dating.

Aboveground atomic testing in the s doubled the concentration of radioactive carbon in the atmosphere.

90% of ivory comes from recently killed elephants

Jump to navigation. A Toronto-based company has been convicted of selling illegal ivory in the first case to use a technique for dating ivory developed by a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in collaboration with other colleagues. Five Star Auctions and Appraisals, and its director, Mrs. Chun Al Jin, were charged after testing revealed two carved elephant tusks they were offering for sale had come from animals — possibly the same elephant — killed in late or early

seized ivory by using relevant analytic techniques (Activity of Objective 1). At present An unambiguous dating is enabled at following findings. If 90Sr/Ca.

Credit: Getty Images. 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. In June , the United States banned nearly all commerce in elephant ivory, which came 26 years after a ban on international trade in ivory.

Both measures aimed to curtail the widespread poaching of elephants, whose numbers have plummeted since the s. Poaching still kills an estimated 8 percent of African elephants each year, or around 96 elephants per day. Demand for elephant ivory and other illegal products derived from endangered animals has grown in Asia in recent years, opening a fresh battleground in the struggle against illegal ivory, even as US markets shut down.

Bans usually allow the sale of ivory that was legally acquired prior to , including heirloom or antique pieces.

Radiocarbon dating

In November , Environment Canada enforcement officers learned that two carved elephant ivory tusks–measuring 78 cm and weighing 1. The forensic report revealed that the tusks were from animals killed in and Elephant ivory legally imported into Canada is exempt from the prohibition. In this case, the offenders pleaded guilty to possessing and offering prohibited ivory for sale. The case against Five Star Auctions and Appraisals is the first time that radiocarbon dating technology has been used to obtain a conviction under wildlife law in Canada, and one of only a half dozen cases where this technique has been successfully used worldwide.

Illegal poaching of some 30, elephants a year for their ivory tusks “The dating method is affordable and accessible to government and law.

Studies in Late Antiquity 1 December ; 3 4 : — This article investigates the nature of usage, as well as the geographical origin, of a small group of ivory artifacts recently discovered in the earliest exposed cultural depositions at the Early Islamic — C. In addition to explaining the finds and the significance of their context for interpreting possible historical implications, the article uses a range of techniques to learn more about the raw material.

In combining archaeological, visual, and biomolecular analyses on these ivories, fresh perspectives are provided that shed new light on the infrastructure and geographical scope of late antique and early medieval trade systems. Moreover, it informs us about the economic and commercial roles played by Red Sea ports in this period and highlights the potential of analyzing organic artifacts from sites in the region to reveal new details and characteristics of historical Indian Ocean trade networks.

The modern port of Aqaba Jordan has been an important hub in trade and transhipment practices for millennia. The history of Aqaba as a port and emporium of trade nevertheless stretches much further back.

Scientists Use Forensic Techniques To Track Poached Ivory

At its death, all exchanges stopping, the concentration of radioactive carbon decreases due to a reduction by half every 5, years. Thus, determining the content of residual C14 dates the death of an organism. A fragment or a sample of some tens of milligrams about 35 mg except for bones and ivory is vaporized.

First applied to test ivory in , AMS is the latest radiocarbon-dating technique that measures the continuous decay of the radioactive isotope.

There are many misunderstandings about the use of ivory in antiques and we believe that the information given below will help provide more clarity. The poaching of elephants in the wild and the threat that this causes to the survival of the species is a very serious matter. We should make it absolutely clear that BADA members deplore the illicit market in ivory and are fully supportive of targeted and proportionate measures aimed at eradicating it.

It is not quite as simple as this, because most of the objects found in the UK today made from or incorporating elements of ivory were created many years ago and are part of our shared cultural heritage. These historical items are not derived from recently-poached ivory. Elephant ivory in large and small quantities has been incorporated into cultural artefacts for thousands of years.

As long ago as BC workshops in Mycenae were producing ivory boxes and furniture inlaid with ivory for export to the Greek mainland. In Egypt during the reign of Tutankhamun it was used as inlay in luxury goods, such as chests or head supports. Its use charts and reflects the changing culture of the world over many centuries and over widely differing cultural backgrounds.

Age and legality of ivory revealed by carbon-14 dating can fight poachers

Elephant poaching is alive and well — and the elephants are not. A team of scientists examining seized shipments of elephant ivory from Africa have found that the vast majority came from elephants that died within the last three years. Last year, in a study led by Samuel Wasser of the University of Washington, scientists analyzed the DNA locked in 28 large seizures of ivory at least half a ton each made between and The spate of nuclear testing by the U.

The technique looks at the radioactive carbon in the ivory, which elephants—and “Our dating method is affordable for government and law.

Bomb tests generations ago could indirectly help fight illegal poaching of African elephants, new research shows. Nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere in the s and ’60s spread a radioactive variety of carbon worldwide, which was picked up by plants during photosynthesis and then deposited in the bodies of herbivores like African elephants.

By looking at the levels of this carbon isotope — known as carbon — in elephant tusks and ivory, researchers can find out how old they are. Isotopes are versions of elements that have differing numbers of neutrons in their nuclei. Knowing the age of elephant tusks is important, since many regulations of ivory trade are date-specific. In the United States, for example, ivory taken prior to a worldwide ban on African elephant tusks may be legally traded, while new ivory is illegal to traffic, said Kevin Uno, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York.

Atmospheric bomb testing caused a spike in carbon that has slowly declined in the past 50 years. By measuring the concentration of this type of carbon , researchers are given two possible dates for the age of the sample, before and after the spike on the curve of carbon concentrations. To figure out which is the right age, researchers have to sample in two locations on the ivory, said Uno, who performed the research while he was doctoral student at the University of Utah.

The legal sale of ivory is actually the trade of illegal and poached ivory as well

Nearly 25 years after an international ban was placed on ivory, African elephants are being slaughtered at a rate that could bring about their extinction this century. By allowing the trade of ivory acquired before to continue, the ban put the burden on law enforcement to distinguish between legal ivory and poached. Now, a new method for dating elephant tusks, described in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , could make it easier to enforce the ivory ban and save the African elephant from extermination say researchers.

The method might also be applied to endangered rhinoceroses and other wildlife. In the highly-regulated market for legal ivory, finding tusks for scientific research is not easy. In the lab, the researchers measured radiocarbon levels at the base of each tusk to independently calculate when the elephants died.

Significance. C dating methods can be used to determine the time of death. of wildlife products. We evaluate poaching patterns of elephants.

Today it is possible to recognize authentic ivory very easily. Musical instrument in ivory, Africa Buddha temple, China ivory Classification of the material. Sometimes, in addition to elephant tusks, the horns of other animals and some kinds of bone are inaccurately included in the category of ivory. Furthermore, increasingly perfect synthetic materials are being produced today which cannot be distinguished from ivory by their appearance alone. All these materials consist of distinct molecules which can be recognized simply and clearly using spectrographic analysis see figure right.

In order to perform the test, it is sufficient to extract a few milligrams of material household drill and mail the sample to a specialized laboratory. Contacts: in Milan: Dr. Peter Matthaes pr museoartescienza. Martin Matthaes mm museoartescienza. Ivory is characterized by its hardness, compactness, lustre and resilience, characteristics due to its chemical composition. The main element is represented by inorganic substances such as phosphate and calcium fluoride, the age of which is not measurable.

Ivory: Significance and Protection

Measuring the age of carbon that came from nuclear weapons tests in the 20th century could help conservationists detect illegal ivory and pinpoint poaching hotspots, according to new research. The new application of a technique known as “bomb-curve 14C dating” is applied to the carbon contained in both collagen and the mineral apatite within ivory to provide an age of death of the animal from which the ivory originated.

Such dating relies on the dramatic increase and subsequent decline of 14C – an isotope of the naturally occurring element carbon that radioactively decays with time — in the atmosphere since the ‘s related to the testing of nuclear weapons during the ‘s. Much like the growth rings used to date the age of trees, elephant tusks also grow in rings recording the composition of carbon in the atmosphere at the time the animal was alive and consuming plants that had absorbed atmospheric carbon during growth.

The study’s lead author, Kevin Uno, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said: “We’ve developed a tool that allows us to determine the age of a tusk or piece of ivory, and this tells us whether it was acquired legally.

Using morphometric and analytical techniques to characterize elephant ivory Date: Oct. 16, From: Forensic Science International(Vol. , Issue ).

There is a need to characterize Asian elephant ivory and compare with African ivory for controlling illegal trade and implementation of national and international laws. The Schreger angle ranged from 32[degrees] to [degrees] and 30[degrees] to [degrees] in Asian and African ivory, respectively. We attempted to ascertain source of origin of Asian elephant ivory similarly as in African ivory based on isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and strontium.

Reference ivory samples from five areas within India were analyzed using collagen and powder sample and the latter was found more suitable for forensic analysis. During our preliminary analysis, the range of [[delta]. Illegal trade in wildlife and its products is a major threat and concern for conservation of endangered species throughout the world. Major illegal wildlife trade exists in skin, ivory, horn, antler, bone, live animals, feathers, nails, claws and pod.

Over the years, poaching of megavertebrate species has depleted their numbers.

Measuring carbon age in ivory could help combat poaching, study shows

Radiocarbon dating of ‘antique’ ivory being sold in European countries reveals that many are not antique at all. By Megan Shersby. Ivory items bought from a range of countries in Europe have been tested by the environmental group Avaaz and exposed to be modern ivory. The ivory pieces were all advertised with either no date or predating , but more than 47 per cent were found to be from after this year.

The date of is key as ivory is considered to be antique if it originates before then, and can be traded. A sample of ivory items were bought via antique dealers and private sellers, and then dated at the University of Oxford, to test the statements from European officials that there is no evidence of the legal ivory trade providing cover for illegal ivory.

Researchers applied radiocarbon dating—a technique from forensic science—to estimate the age of samples in seized ivory shipments, with.

University of Utah researchers developed a new weapon to fight poachers who kill elephants, hippos, rhinos and other wildlife. By measuring radioactive carbon deposited in tusks and teeth by open-air nuclear bomb tests, the method reveals the year an animal died, and thus whether the ivory was taken illegally. It was published online the week of July 1 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Not only can the method help wildlife forensics to combat poaching, but “we’ve shown that you can use the signature in animal tissues left over from nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere to study modern ecology and help us learn about fossil animals and how they lived,” says Cerling, a distinguished professor of geology and geophysics, and biology at the University of Utah.

The method uses the “bomb curve,” which is a graph — shaped roughly like an inverted “V” — showing changes in carbon levels in the atmosphere — and thus absorbed by plants and animals in the food chain. The carbon was formed in the atmosphere by U. Those levels peaked in the s and have declined ever since but still are absorbed by and measurable in plant and animal tissues.

International agreements banned most trade of raw ivory from Asian elephants after and African elephants after

Africa turns to science for help combatting ivory trade