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Case Solved!

5 elephants walking across dry savanna grassland

African savanna elephants live primarily in protected areas

The Seized Ivory Came from East Africa

Congratulations! Based on the genetic analysis so far, you eliminated all forest elephants and savanna elephants from the north and south. That means the ivory sample most likely came from a savanna elephant population in eastern Africa.

In your analysis you used several markers in three far-apart populations. To determine a more precise location, scientists compared the ivory sample genetic profile to many more populations, some very close together geographically and thus more similar to one another, using 16 markers and taking into account allele frequencies.

In this case, Sam Wasser and colleagues were able to assign the ivory sample to a protected area in Tanzania. Performing the same analysis for additional tusks in the shipment (remember there were over 500 tusks!) confirmed that they all came from elephant populations in Tanzania. As you will discover in the "Ivory Trade" section, Tanzania is one of the hotspots for elephant poaching.

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Eastern Savanna Elephant Populations

The "x" shows the probable origin of the poached elephant. It is in a region of east Africa between four sampled elephant populations.