Seized ivory probed for clues that could help save elephants

Scientists are using information gleaned from both illegal ivory art and elephant dung to provide clues that could help save the lives of pachyderms that are being slaughtered for their tusks in Africa.

Samples from a $4.5 million illegal ivory seizure in New York are being analyzed to determine where and when the elephants were killed to create the carvings.

A scientist from Columbia University will use radioactive carbon dating to determine when the elephants died. Another researcher from the University of Washington will determine where they were killed using a DNA database compiled by analyzing elephant dung from all over Africa.

The ultimate goals are to raise public awareness of the plight of elephants and help law enforcement and policymakers shut down the ivory market.