Plans to make EXTINCT woolly mammoth a protected species
WOOLLY MAMMOTHS could be made a ‘protected species’ because traders are passing off illegal elephant ivory as that of the animal that went extinct 10,000 YEARS ago
- Humane Society International said there is a growing trade in mammoth ivory
- Traffickers try to pass off ivory as legal mammoth ivory to circumvent the ban
- The market in mammoths is providing a dangerous cover for poached elephants
- The issue will be raised at a convention taking place in Sri Lanka in May
Woolly mammoths went extinct 10,000 years ago – but could soon be listed as a species to stop their ivory being traded.
A proposal has been made to give the giant animals protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) taking place in Sri Lanka in May.
The trade in elephant ivory has been banned since 1990.
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Woolly mammoths (artist’s impression) went extinct 10,000 years ago – but could soon be listed as a species to stop their ivory being traded. A proposal has been made to give the giant animals protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora taking place in Sri Lanka in May
But traffickers often try to pass off ivory as legal mammoth ivory to circumvent the ban, because of its near identical appearance.
The Humane Society International said there is a growing trade in mammoth ivory recovered from tundra in areas like Siberia, with a licence.
This can be used to launder illegal elephant ivory.
To get around the elephant ivory ban, traders sometimes mix the two ivories together.
In the absence of a reliable and cost-effective test to distinguish between the two, the market in mammoth ivory is providing a dangerous cover for poached elephant ivory.
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Kitty Block, president of Humane Society International, said: ‘Every single day, human-induced habitat loss, poaching, commercial trade and climate change are pushing more of our planet’s precious wild species towards extinction.
‘We can no longer afford any complacency when it comes to saving wild animal species threatened by over-exploitation, and so as we welcome CITES proposals to establish new or increased protections, we urge nations to ensure that species conservation is approached as a necessity not a luxury, with pro-active trade restrictions imposed long before a species is at the extinction precipice.
‘With ivory traffickers exploiting the long-extinct mammoth so that they can further exploit imperiled elephants, the time is now for African and all other nations to unite in the fight to end the poaching epidemic and ensure all ivory markets are closed.
‘Giraffes too need our urgent attention, having already disappeared from seven countries and now quietly slipping into extinction with the wild population at or just under 100,000. The time to act is now, before we lose them forever.’
In recent weeks, researchers discovered Cambodian trinkets believed to be made from elephant ivory were actually made from Mammoth tusk. DNA from the 10,000-year-old creatures was discovered by a team at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (pictured in this January 4, 2018, file photo)
In recent weeks, researchers discovered Cambodian trinkets were made from Mammoth tusk.
DNA from the 10,000-year-old creatures was discovered by a team at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).
They have been pioneering the use of genetic data to determine the origin of ivory in order to tackle black market selling of the illegal commodity.
Scientists on the project hope to develop a conservation genetics laboratory in Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to help monitor dwindling elephant populations and determine the origin of ivory found on the marketplace.
They say that each year around 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory across the globe, and there appear to be increasing amounts of ivory for sale in Cambodia.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE WOOLLY MAMMOTH?
The woolly mammoth roamed the icy tundra of Europe and North America for 140,000 years, disappearing at the end of the Pleistocene period, 10,000 years ago.
They are one of the best understood prehistoric animals known to science because their remains are often not fossilised but frozen and preserved.
Males were around 12 feet (3.5m) tall, while the females were slightly smaller.
Curved tusks were up to 16 feet (5m) long and their underbellies boasted a coat of shaggy hair up to 3 feet (1m) long.
Tiny ears and short tails prevented vital body heat being lost.
Their trunks had ‘two fingers’ at the end to help them pluck grass, twigs and other vegetation.
The Woolly Mammoth is are one of the best understood prehistoric animals known to science because their remains are often not fossilised but frozen and preserved (artist’s impression)
They get their name from the Russian ‘mammut’, or earth mole, as it was believed the animals lived underground and died on contact with light – explaining why they were always found dead and half-buried.
Their bones were once believed to have belonged to extinct races of giants.
Woolly mammoths and modern-day elephants are closely related, sharing 99.4 per cent of their genes.
The two species took separate evolutionary paths six million years ago, at about the same time humans and chimpanzees went their own way.
Woolly mammoths co-existed with early humans, who hunted them for food and used their bones and tusks for making weapons and art.
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