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Contact: Lee J. Siegel
lee.siegel@utah.edu
801-581-8993
University of Utah

African Elephant with Large Tusks

Caption: This African elephant has what are believed to be the biggest tusks among elephants at Kenya's Samburu National Reserve. Illegal poaching of some 30,000 elephants a year for their ivory tusks threatens the animals with extinction. University of Utah geochemists developed a new way to fight poaching of elephants, hippos, rhinos and other animals. Carbon-14 from 1950s and 1960s nuclear weapons tests was and still is deposited in animals' tusks or teeth, and those carbon-14 levels reveal the year an animal died, and thus whether the ivory was taken before or after international bans on ivory trading.

Credit: Thure Cerling, University of Utah.

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Related news release: Nuke test radiation can fight poachers


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