Protecting the Old to Save the New

04 September 2019

Imagine you’re a forensic wildlife scientist. As part of a project to find out where the world’s illegal ivory comes from, your days consist of drilling and testing trinkets and carvings made from elephant ivory. One day, you look down through your microscope to inspect a sample you’ve taken from a Cambodian market souvenir…something isn’t right. You realise that what you’re looking at isn’t elephant ivory at all. The carving was made from a woolly mammoth tusk!

This actually happened earlier this year to a team of Edinburgh Zoo-based scientists, and it opens up the debate on how countries should deal with the trade in extinct wildlife parts, particularly if their trade could hasten the extinction of their modern-day cousins. Zara Bending (JGIA Board Director, and Associate at the Centre for Environment Law at Macquarie University) recently published a piece in The Conversation analysing recent efforts to protect the extinct woolly mammoth. Read more:

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