Woolly mammoths could become a ‘protected species’ 4,000 years after going extinct in a bid to stop the illegal trading of elephant tusks


John Huchinson, Daily Mail 

Date Published

It may have become extinct for 4,000 years, but the woolly mammoth could be about to get the highest level of wildlife protection.

The move has been made after a huge number of ivory tusks were discovered in the Siberian tundra – with fears that it could link to an increase in illegal elephant ivory trading.

Due to rapid climate change, the permafrost has melted revealing tons of ivory, which could be collected and traded.

It is feared the emergence of tonnes of ivory could actually increase the sale of elephant ivory around the world

It is believed the move, set to be debated in South Africa next month at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) conference, could actually limit the trading of elephant ivory.

Dealing in elephant ivory is illegal, but trading in mammoth ivory is not, and confusion between the two could lead to a surge in illegal sales.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, John Scanlon, secretary-general of Cites said: ‘The problem is that mammoth ivory gets confused with ivory from endangered elephants.

‘This is the first long-extinct animal considered for a restriction in trade.’

The report to be debated states that: ‘The rise in trade in mammoth ivory poses an indirect threat to elephant populations in the wild by creating a simple way to enable trade in ‘laundered’ elephant ivory.’

The Cites treaty is an international agreement between 182 governments around the world.

Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

It accords varying degrees of protection to more than 35,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens, fur coats or dried herbs.

Earlier this month MailOnline reported on how a team of scientists at the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge have used statistical analysis to point towards humans being the cause of the mammoth’s extinction.

They found that whenever prehistoric humans spread to on continents and islands, the megafauna quickly died out.

This, they say, is the ‘nail in the coffin’ that puts humans firmly in the frame for the genocide of millions of some of the largest land mammals to have walked the Earth.