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Pinpointing Poachers: Gene sleuths map illicit elephant kills

An elephant tusk never forgets its homeland. Every piece of ivory contains DNA unique to its place of origin. Now, researchers say a genetics-based technique they've developed is geographically precise enough to aid forensic pursuit of African-elephant poachers.

The new method, which is described in the Oct. 12 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, appears on the eve of an international meeting in Bangkok that could relax some rules governing the sale of ivory from southern Africa.

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