Why the Extinct Woolly Mammoth Could Soon Become a Protected Species

By Tom Pritchard on at

When you hear about animals being protected and put on special watch lists, you generally assume that there are some living specimens dotting around the planet. But that's not always the case, and the long-extinct woolly mammoth could be getting some extra protection.

No, we haven't been on the sauce over lunch. The move could end up being made under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and while it won't help the mammoth's predicament, it's designed to protect regular elephants by further curbing the ivory trade.

It's currently estimated that there are 150 million dead mammoths frozen under the Russian tundra, and as the planet heats up more and more of them are becoming accessible to humans. The dead mammoths are having their tusks harvested and exported to countries like China and Vietnam. In fact, it's estimated that Russia exports 100 tonnes of mammoth ivory every year.

Trading mammoth ivory isn't illegal, and some see it as an ethical alternative to elephant ivory. The problem is that there are fears the mammoth ivory trade could make it easier for poachers to launder ivory illegally-sourced from African elephants.

Since it's difficult to tell the difference, smugglers have been doing just that. So by limiting the trade of mammoth ivory, the idea is that we can further protect elephants and make it much harder for smugglers to pass off their ill-gotten elephant ivory as mammoth ivory.

Proposals to limit the trade are on the agenda for the next Cites conference, due to take place on Johannesburg next month. [TechTimes]

Featured image via Shutterstock