Central Park

Seized ivory probed for clues that could help save elephants

Scientists are using information gleaned from both illegal ivory art and elephant dung to provide clues that could help save the lives of pachyderms that are being slaughtered for their tusks in Africa.

The wildlife detective work involves cutting up seized artifacts including bangle bracelets and statues of Chinese deities and subjecting them to carbon dating to determine when the elephants were killed. DNA from the ivory art is then compared to a DNA database derived from elephant dung to pinpoint where they lived.

What scientists learn may not put a particular poacher in jail, but will tell the story of where and when an elephant died on an African savannah so its tusk...