The unique chequered pattern of elephant ivory has made it a desired commodity for the production of various works of art. The demand however outstrips the supply and with soaring prices, illegal tusk harvesting is thriving on the African continent. Formal restrictions placed on trade in elephant products have been ineffective in reversing the rapid decline in elephant numbers. We are presently facing the reality of extinction of free roaming elephant on the African continent. This paper describes the histogenesis of the chequered pattern, the genomic impact of ivory harvesting on the phenotype of breeding herds, and the contribution of science to tracing the origin of illegal ivory.
- African elephant