Stage OneStage one of the illegal ivory trade is where the ivory issources from the elephant; this stage is commonly violent for the elephant withmany still alive while their tusks are taken from them. This stage of the cycleforensics is very important as the forensic evidence is new and untouched thiscould be vital to an investigation. Forensic techniques that can be used atthis stage of an investigation are: Ballistics, Trace, Entomology, andAnthropology; however, in this section the primary focus will be onfingerprinting; how this is used on ivory and any positives or challenges ofusing it as a forensic technique.Studies have shown that the use of contrasting powders notonly delivers usable ridge detailing but is one of the easiest and most costeffective ways of fingerprinting ivory (Weston-Ford et al.
, 2016). ……study discussed the use of two reduced size powder material types; SupraNanoblack powder and Jet black magnetic powered; the results showed that bothpowders gave usable ridge detailing and proved better than standard powdersused for fingerprinting non wildlife evidence (Weston-Ford et al., 2016). Furthermore, the studyillustrates that SupraNano black powder performed the best with visible ridgemarkings after 28 days; however, there did appear to be a decrease in the ridgedetail through aging with the best results in the first week after contact (Weston-Ford et al., 2016). The results show thatthere is more chance of reliable marking when the prints are retrieved withinthe first week after the ivory is taken from the elephant; furthermore, the useof SupraNano black powder should be implemented for the best ridge marking. Studieshave shown that there are multiple reasons law enforcement agencies choose notto use fingerprinting on ivory the main reason being the challenges ofobtaining usable ridge details that can be analysis (Weston-Ford et al., 2016).
Literature on this topic is limited witharticle from 2016 stated above existing as the only up to date research articleon the use of reduced size powders. Using reduced size powders is a very sustainable method offingerprinting ivory for forensic analysis, especially in the early stages ofillegal ivory trade where countries have limited funding, resources andeducation (Weston-Ford et al., 2016). The use powders eliminatesthe need for expensive equipment and powders and are simple to use (Weston-Ford et al.
, 2016). Fingerprinting ivory israrely considered by law enforcement agencies to use as forensic evidence incourt; it is thought that with the amount of forensic methods available moreenergy would be put into using these methods and making them more effective forthe future (Weston-Ford et al., 2016). The lack of research inthis subject area and low prosecution rate has led the Metropolitan Policeservice to investigate the effective methods that can be used in tackling theillegal ivory trade; however, there still does not seem to be a lot of researchbeing conducted in this area.Brief overview of stage Stage Two The second stage is the transportation stage; this is whenthe ivory is shipped to the buyers; however, to stop detection the ivory isshipped to several countries before arriving at its destination. Forensicevidence at this section may have been lost due to handling of the ivory beforeshipment; for example, fingerprinting and trace evidence; however, DNA evidenceand isotope analysis can be used because these forensic techniques are not lostfrom handling of the ivory.
In this section, the focus will be on the use of DNAanalysis in the use of find the geographical origin of the ivory; and thepositives and challenges of using this evidence type. Ivory trafficker move shipment through various countriesbefore arriving at its final destination and most often the ivory starts itsjourney from a neighbouring country this is done to obscure the ivories origin,DNA analysis can prevent this problem as it can expose the geographical originof the ivory (American, 2015; Wasser et al., 2008). The use of DNA forwildlife forensic applications are increasing this is because DNA can beinvolved in multiple investigations for example in the determining whether twosamples match, to establish the lineage of an individual and to identify thegeographical origin (Johnson, Wilson-Wilde, & Linacre, 2014). In identifying the subjectof a shipment that has been seized forensics can come in very useful (Tejeda, Brien, Britannica, & Holmes, 2017). It has been difficult forauthorities to stop the illegal ivory trade this is partly due to the fact thatmost forensic information is discovered at the shipping stage (Wasser et al., 2008), however Samuel Wasser aconservation biologist from the University of Washington has shown that DNAanalysis used at this stage can be very valuable in discovering the origin ofthe ivory seized at shipping ports (Wasser et al.
, 2004, 2007; Wasser et al., 2008). Furthermore Wasser hasshown that finding the origin of the elephants being poached can show wherethese ‘hotspots’ for poacher activity are, benefiting law enforcement agencies asthey can then focus their resources in these areas (American, 2015; Wasser et al., 2004, 2007; WASSER etal., 2008). The approach used by Wasser combined genetic and statisticalmethods to estimate the regional origin of the group sample and to thenestimate the individual samples geographical origin (Wasser et al., 2004; Wasser et al.
, 2008). Wasser compared seizedivory genotypes to over 600 reference samples collected all across Africa (American, 2015; Wasser et al., 2008). Analysing the ivory Wassercould find out the spot where the poaching occurred by finding specialmutations in the ivory and lining it up with his dung map (American, 2015). When given random samplesof elephant dung Wasser found where it was retrieved within 190 miles (American, 2015). Wasser explained that “Scatis the most accessible animal product in the world, and it contains a hugeamount of information; DNA, microbiome in its gut, reproductive hormones,stress, nutritional hormones and toxins” (American, 2015).
Elephants were correctlyappointed to their place of origin, with “50% of samples located within 500kmand 80% within 932km” (Wasser et al., 2004). Wasser identified that themain poaching hotspots were located in the South East of Africa mostimportantly the countries of Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya (American, 2015; Wasser et al., 2004; Wasser et al.
,2008). He hadanalysed 28 shipments by 2015 all connected to the hotspot areas (American, 2015). His concern was that thehotspots would move to a different area and with most countries taking one ortwo years to hand over seized shipments it would be difficult to identify thesemovements in hotspots (American, 2015).This method of forensics prevents countries from denyingtheir problem with poaching as they cannot deny the facts that DNA analysis isshowing, eventually stopping the poaching of elephants at the heat of thekilling.
(Wasser et al., 2007; Wasser et al., 2008). Monitoring the origin ofthe ivory travelling through main ivory markets would help the efforts incontaining the illegal trade (Wasser et al., 2004). Accessing to the reference samples to runanalysis on evidence is a big problem as if this is not collected or sharedthere is nothing to compare evidence to, all data gathered should be stored ina space were all countries have access to that information (Tejeda et al., 2017).
A launch in 2016 by CITESallowed countries to access to 700 reference samples from 30 countries, thisturned in to the largest Ivory database in the world, this was named IvoryID (Tejeda et al., 2017). Brief overview of stageStage 3The third and final stage of ivory trade is the selling ofthe ivory. This stage is the most difficult to achieve evidence from asevidence will be lost after the transporting of the ivory to the destinationcountry. In this section, the forensic techniques that can be used are similarto the techniques in stage two; however, tool mark analysis could be used atthis stage if the ivory has been worked in to a buyable item the tool markscould determine the maker of the item; although, this is might be difficult ifthere are several people who sell ivory and they use the same equipment.Therefore, this section will look in to the use of Isotope Analysis and thepositive and challenges of using this forensic technique.
Isotopic analysis can be very important in an investigationor the management of elephants. An advantage of using isotopic analysis whentrying to find the origin of illegal ivory is that the analysis can be used on sampleswithout DNA or reduced DNA (Rijkelijkhuizen, Kootker, & Davies, 2015;Ziegler, Merker, Streit, Boner, & Jacob, 2016). Stable isotope analysisused the components of the elephant’s diet, climate and environment to find thegeographical origin of the elephant ivory (Codron et al., n.d.;Murphy, 2012; Ziegler et al., 2016). The components found in elephantsivory are carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, strontium and lead the amount of eachelement in the ivory depends on the elephants lifestyle (Codron et al.
, n.d.; Murphy, 2012; Ziegler et al.,2016) . To findthe region where the elephant originated from variations in isotope ratios areused by finding out the elephants diet water sources and climate (Codron et al.
, n.d.; Murphy, 2012; Ziegler et al.
,2016). Plantsare at least 25% of an elephant’s diet and this can be important as thevegetation which grows in a savannah environment differs between the vegetationwhich grows in a forest environment; furthermore, the carbon ratios in theivory can help detect the concentration of trees to recognise if the ivory camefrom a forest or savannah elephant (Codron et al., n.d.; Murphy, 2012; Ziegler et al.,2016).
The data that can be collected from illegal ivory and usedfor isotope analysis can accurately place half of all samples within 381km ofthe elephant’s origin and can place 75% of sample within 1154km of the origin (Ziegler et al., 2016). Moreover, this simpleprocess and analysis can be shared with the laboratories from the regions theillegal ivory is coming from to compare the data they have collected to ivoryID; this would help reduce the amount of illegal ivory leaving the country oforigin (Ziegler et al.
, 2016). However, there is the factthat elephants migrate over large areas in their life which can make it hard usingisotope analysis to find the exact geographical origin of an individual (Rijkelijkhuizen et al., 2015). Brief overview of stageChallengesThere arecertain challenges when working with forensics and illegal ivory. Wildlifeforensic labs are expensive to run and funding towards wildlife forensics is abig issue (Tejeda et al., 2017). Some people view wildlife forensic not to beimportant because the forensics are not being conducted on humans and some saythis is a waste of funding and resources(Huffman& Wallace, 2011).
However, forensics is a big part ofcombatting wildlife crime. The small amount of wildlife forensics labs acrossthe world means that most countries do not have access to their own laboratory;therefore, they rely on mailing wildlife evidence to other countries foranalysis (Tejedaet al., 2017). Due to funds and insufficientresources the way these are packed are not adequate; the evidence mailedinadequately can be admissible in court if used in a case; considering that theevidence could have been contaminated during transportation (Tejeda et al.
, 2017).Access tolaboratories is not the only access problem wildlife forensics officers have, accessto reference samples as means of running analysis also causes a problem becausecountries are not collecting and sharing sample. With no sample, there isnothing to compare evidence to, all data gathered should be stored in a spacewere all countries have access to the information (Tejeda et al., 2017). A launch in 2016 by CITES allowed countries toaccess to 700 reference samples from 30 countries, this turned in to thelargest Ivory database in the world, this was named IvoryID (Tejedaet al.
, 2017). CITES are helping to guide countries in the correct direction; however,there can be more done on this issue with more research.Advances incomputer technology have developed the DNA, fingerprint and ballistics systemsfor fasted identification (Huffman& Wallace, 2011). Though, Technology is alwaysadvancing and new technology being implemented, in countries not as economicallydeveloped this technology in not use because it is putting “powerful technologyinto the hands of someone who has not even had the technology forfingerprinting” (Tejeda et al., 2017). The necessity for experience in higher education andcasework poses barriers within some countries who do not have adequatefacilities to accommodate the experience of using technology and forensicsmethods.
CITES and these countries may benefit from organising an exchangebetween countries for educational purposes; this scheme would benefit bothcountries and help create one standard of practice for every county to follow (Tejeda et al., 2017). Countries have different standards of practice whichmakes it difficult to communicate and cooperate on issues, standardizingwildlife forensic practice between all countries would improve theircoordination between each other and in turn improving the effort to decreaseillegal ivory trade (“Howforensic science can stop slaughter of endangered wildlife | New Scientist,”n.d.).
To understandthe reasons why forensic techniques need to be used in illegal ivory investigationthe incentives for trading ivory must be identified. The highprices and high demand for ivory gives the people in African and Asian countrieswho struggle with poverty and unemployment an incentive to commit wildlifeoffences (Bennett, 2015; Douglas-Hamilton, 2008;Kideghesho, 2016). Local communities rely on criminal activities and withpoachers and traffickers able to pay their way out of problems the economicgain of committing a criminal offence out weights the reasons for staying tothe law (Bennett,2015; Douglas-Hamilton, 2008; Kideghesho, 2016). Scholarssuggest that unemployment, poverty and crime are linked; In 1968, a theoristcalled Howard Becker came up with the economic theory of crime which presumes peopleturn to crime if the costs of committing the crime are lower than the benefitsgained (Douglas-Hamilton, 2008; Kideghesho, 2016).
The theory can be illustrated by looking at the statisticsfor one of the highest suppliers of illegal ivory, Tanzania on its unemploymentand poverty; the statistics show that in 2015 unemployment was at 11.88%;furthermore, 28.2% were said to be under the basic needs poverty line (Douglas-Hamilton,2008; Kideghesho, 2016). Polices to decrease poverty andunemployment in countries like Africa and Asia where the ivory is being sourcedthis should decrease the need and benefits for criminal activity (Douglas-Hamilton,2008; Kideghesho, 2016). Governments have tried to introducethe benefit sharing scheme aimed to encourage people to refrain from criminalactivities and reduce poverty in communities; however, this scheme has notworked as the support from the scheme does not compare to the gains of wildlifecrime (Douglas-Hamilton,2008; Kideghesho, 2016).Corruptionfrom governments, police and rangers influence the illegal ivory trade; corruptgovernment fail to implement legislation to protect wildlife; using wildlife conservationfunds for their own personal gain and the signing of fraudulent paperwork forendangered or threatened species(Bennett,2015; Kideghesho, 2016; Tejeda et al., 2017) Poor regulation of governmentstockpiles in Africa led to corruption when illegal ivory entered domestic marketsas one-off stockpile sales (WildAid,Save the Elephants, & African Wild life foundation, 2014).
The countries who continue thedemand for ivory; United States, China, and Japan, still have legal domesticivory markets; most of this ivory is sold with a certification to say that theivory being used is coming from legal stockpiles or as antiques (Bennett,2015). However, as previous explained thesedocumentations can be forged so they can legally sell illegal ivory.Some say thatlegalising the trade of ivory could be more effective at controlling and regulatingthe sales of ivory (corrupt world). Sales can be used for conservation by fulfillingdemand and funds can be used to support conservation work (corrupt world). However,this does not take into consideration the poacher and traffickers who collectedivory because it is the only means to feed their family; So, on the other hand havingin place good and effective polices and plans for specific countries to addresstheir specific problem can help address the issues of illegal ivory trade andcould also improve these barriers that are stopping the demand and need to huntivory (Kideghesho,2016). Increasing public awareness of the governmentsperformance on health, education and employment might increase pressure ongovernments to improve these sectors; also, if people are aware of governmentcorruptions against wildlife conservation this might increase their support (Kideghesho,2016).
Results of a 2014 survey shows thatdemand reduction campaigns are impacting on the awareness, attitudes andbehaviours of locals toward elephants and the illegal ivory trade (WildAid,Save the Elephants, & African Wild life foundation, 2014).