DNA has lead investigators trace the biggest ever consignment of contraband ivory seized since 1989 to savannah elephants in Zambia.
Scientists have extracted DNA from 37 tusks recovered from the shipment, which was seized in Singapore back in June 2002.
The seizure in Singapore consisted of 532 tusks packed in a 20ft container that had been shipped to the Far East from Malawi in south-east Africa. As well it contained 42,000 hankos, small blocks of solid ivory that is used to make signature stamps, or chops, that are popular in China and Japan.
Singaporethe second largest cache of captured illegal ivory on record, the biggest since the 1989 ban, and represented ivory from 3,000 to 6,500 elephants.
China's economy rapidly expanded to be a major force driving the black market ivory trade. In 1989, a kilogram of high quality ivory sold for US$100
The price the went up to US$200 in 2004, then rising up once again to US$750 .
It is estimated that more than 23,000 elephants were killed to produce the contraband ivory uncovered in 12 separate seizures in the year August 2005-2006.