Shining NIR light on ivory: a practical enforcement tool for elephant ivory identification

Chaitae, Apinya, Rittiron, Ronnarit, Gordon, Iain J., Marsh, Helene, Addison, Jane, Pochanagone, Suttahatai, and Suttanon, Nattakan (2021) Shining NIR light on ivory: a practical enforcement tool for elephant ivory identification. Conservation Science and Practice, 3 (9). e486.

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The elephant ivory trade remains controversial because of concerns about the extinction risk of elephants and the different needs of CITES member states. Thailand's situation is particularly contentious because of the different legal status among types of elephant ivory. Thai law allows the local sale of ivory from domesticated Asian elephants, which creates challenges for Thai enforcement officers in identification of ivory provenance. We investigated the capacity of non-destructive Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy (600–1700 nm), combined with Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis (PLS-DA), to discriminate between ivory from African, wild Asian and domesticated Asian elephants. Ivory spectra of 64 elephants were divided randomly into calibration and validation datasets. We were able to determine elephant ivory provenance at both the interspecies (African and Asian elephant ivory), and within species (wild and domesticated Asian elephant ivory) classifications with 100% accuracy. These results showed the potential use of handheld NIR spectrometers for rapid assessments of ivory provenance, as well as a forensic tool for wider enforcement.

Item ID: 68959
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2578-4854
Copyright Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providedthe original work is properly cited. © 2021 The Authors. Conservation Science and Practice published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology.
Funders: Royal Thai Government, James Cook University
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2021 02:18
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3003 Animal production > 300304 Animal protection (incl. pests and pathogens) @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3199 Other biological sciences > 319901 Forensic biology @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 30%
SEO Codes: 10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1001 Environmentally sustainable animal production > 100199 Environmentally sustainable animal production not elsewhere classified @ 30%
10 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 1006 Primary products from animals > 100699 Primary products from animals not elsewhere classified @ 40%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180699 Terrestrial systems and management not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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