Siberian Mammoth Pirates

In Russia’s Siberian wilderness, a new gold rush is on, as local ‘tuskers’ evade police and set up temporary illegal ivory mines, blasting away soil and permafrost to find the tusks, horns, and bones of long-extinct woolly mammoths and rhinos. Demand for ivory remains huge in China and other Asian nations, and the market for elephant tusks is tightening as preservation efforts increase. A large mammoth tusk—“ethical ivory”—can be worth tens of thousands of dollars to a lucky tusker. Photographer Amos Chapple, working for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, traveled to Russia’s Yakutia region with some of these tuskers, documenting their search, the environmental impact, and some of their finds. Be sure to see his full story at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.

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