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Ivory trade kingpins could be toppled by testing tusk DNA

Some 40,000 elephants are killed each year by poachers for their tusks, which can be illegally sold for a large profit. Now, scientists have developed a method to identify where an elephant was living when it was killed by analyzing its tusk DNA and matching it to a map of already sequenced elephant genomes, Smithsonian reports. Tusks confiscated from separate shipments could often be linked back to a couple poaching “hot spots,” like northern Gabon, the team reports today in Science Advances. The scientists say their method could help local law enforcement consolidate their resources to a few specific areas, giving them a better chance of catching poachers in the act.

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