DNA sleuths bolster case against three key African ivory cartels

DNA tests on smuggled elephant tusks have identified three major ivory cartels in Africa and are helping investigators bolster the criminal cases against some of the most dangerous traffickers, researchers said Wednesday.

Around 40,000 African elephants are killed every year for their tusks, which are illegally traded as part of a multibillion dollar industry that extends from Africa to Asia and beyond.

Traffickers conceal their ivory in shipping containers — but inspectors peer inside just 1 percent of the 1 billion containers sent around the world each year.

Where physical inspections fall short, genetic testing has come to the rescue, said the report in the journal Science Advances.

Lead author Samuel Wasser, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, said…

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