Genetic detectives link ivory shipments to hone in on African smuggling cartels – Science News

As many as 40,000 African elephants are being slaughtered every year for their ivory.

And since there are only an estimated 415,000 African elephants remaining in the wild — down from possibly 5 million at the turn of the 20th century — poaching is a key threat to the future of the species.

However, efforts to stamp out poaching by prosecuting poachers have so far proven largely unsuccessful.

Prosecutions are usually based on seizures of a single, relatively small shipment and sentences are often accordingly light, says Professor Samuel Wasser from the University of Washington.

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