Poaching impacts the planet and its wildlife in devastating ways. Not only does it lead to extinction is also enables the spread of disease from poached animals. Find out this innovative method to help catch ivory poachers.
The officials who catch ivory poachers have an increasingly difficult task. As soon as one method to catch them is set, there are new ways to avoid being caught. However, this new method might just catch ivory poachers once and for all.
Although the magnificent ivory of elephant tusks seems very smooth to the naked eye, it is actually quite porous when viewed under a microscope.
These microscopic pores are very good at soaking up fingerprints, thereby obscuring the very evidence that has been used for decades in catching criminals: fingerprints.
Without fingerprints, many crimes go unsolved – including illegal poaching of elephants.
How do fingerprints help catch poachers?
According to recent findings published in the journal, Science & Justice, two newly developed powdery substances can reveal fingerprints left on elephant tusks for up to four weeks.
Although the powders have been commercially available for many years, they were until recently untested on ivory.
Why must we catch ivory poachers?
In 2014 alone, it is estimated that 33,000 elephants were illegally poached and killed for their beautiful tusks. In central Africa, 64% of all elephants have perished over the past ten years due to poachers.
If something is not done to stop the killings, these majestic creatures may go extinct within the next 10 years.
How do these powders work and how will they help?
The two newer powders used for fingerprint identification contain grains that are much smaller than those of traditional powders. Since the grain particles are so tiny, they stick best to very small traces of fingerprints.
The powder is composed of silica, iron and carbon. These chemicals allow the grains to latch onto both oil-based and water-based particles left by fingerprints.
Traditional powders can identify fingerprints left on ivory for about one to two days. However, these new compounds can identify almost all marks for up to 7 days, and sometimes even at 28 days.
The new powders are most useful for border police and park rangers who seize ivory while in transit or right in the field.
A forensic science professor at Kings College London, Leon Barron, has created a field kit. It costs less than $150 each and is the size of a notebook.
The authorities can carry these with them in order to examine ivory for markings and lift fingerprints for evidence. Barron states that, “We want to engage now and get this rolled out.”