Ivory Samples Needed

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    Ivory Samples Needed for Origin and Age of African Elephant Ivory

    German Project for the Protection of African Elephants
    Hunters in Support of Conservation


    The German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (FANC) requests the owners of ivory, in particular of hunting trophies with known origin and age to support a research project. The project will assist law enforcement agencies in the fight against elephant poaching and ivory smuggle. At the same time it can facilitate future ivory trade along the lines of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s goal of sustainable use of natural resources.

    The Federal Agency for Nature Conservation is currently running in a close cooperation with the International Centre of Ivory Studies of the University of Mainz, the University of Regensburg, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), the German Hunting Association and the World Wide Fund for Nature Germany (WWF) a research project on the determination of age and origin of ivory from the African elephant. The major objectives of the project are to create a reference database for the geographical origin of African elephant ivory and to develop a readily available precise method for the designation of the age of ivory.

    The entire undertaking is part of Germany's contribution for the implementation of the CITES African Elephant Action Plan and in particular its strategy 1.4 'Strengthening the enforcement of laws relevant to conservation and management of African elephants'. Hence the project shall provide at the latest in early 2013 a useful and readily free available enforcement tool to assist in the fight against the illegal trade in ivory which will enable African elephant range states to better control any ivory trade under CITES.

    The project is in principle based on the isotopic composition of ivory. For the database about 500 ivory samples from African range states will be analyzed and the results combined with the IUCN-SSC African Elephant Specialist Group’s vector data which spatially represent the range of the different populations and thus provide information on the geology, vegetation and precipitation. For the purpose of the designation of the age of ivory not only the specific activity of radiocarbon, 14C, will be measured but also the specific activity of the strontium isotope 90Sr (related to the element calcium 90Sr/ Ca) and the activity ratio of the thorium isotopes 228Th/ 232Th, which makes the method very precise and reliable. More detailed information about the project, both in English and in French, can be accessed on the FANC’s website (BfN: CITES) under the heading ‘Current Issues’.

    Here are pictures showing the process of taking samples for the project: FileSwap.com : Download Folder Burkina

    The scientific results of the development and the validation of the research methods will be published in scientific journals. In addition the database will be presented to the national CITES authorities of the African elephant range states and to the international community of states. Furthermore plans are underway to inform all CITES parties about the details of the research project and the practical application methods during a side-event at the 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand in 2013.

    As there are still not enough ivory samples throughout the African elephant’s range available for the project, the FANC would like to ask for the assistance of big game hunters to provide small pieces of their ivory trophies.

    Origin of ivory project: samples of 0,25 gram only are needed. They can be takenfrom inside the nerve-canal or from the base without damaging the tusk. Origin ofivory must exactly be known.

    Age of ivory project: 15 grams of ivory are needed from the base of the tusk. As this will leave a visible mark, it will not practically apply to trophies mounted e. g. on a stand. The year of the death of the elephant must be known.

    Any owner of ivory (especially European Union residents due to the formalities for obtaining CITES permits for non-EU-residents) who would like to support this important research project with small samples which can be geographically and/ or age determined is kindly invited to contact FANC about details and procedures: Mrs Karin Hornig (hornigk@bfn.de) or Mrs Claudia Denkl: denklc@bfn.de



    Source: Claudia Denkl, Scientific Administrational Officer, CITES Management Authority, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
     

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