A Hunt For The Elusive Woolly Mammoth

WORLD Warotter

 

Ten thousand years ago, the prehistoric woolly mammoth disappeared from its mainland ranges — killed off by climate change and by the hands of our hunter ancestors.

Although a number of mammoth herds did manage to survive on isolated islands for several thousands of years after, the woolly mammoth has since become entirely extinct.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

But in Siberia, where it is believed that millions of mammoth tusks remain buried in the melting permafrost, a new industry of ivory trade has taken hold.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva, who was on assignment for National Geographic, traveled to Siberia to witness firsthand the working environments of those who still hunt for the elusive woolly mammoth.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Evgenia Arbugaeva

While the international trade of elephant ivory continues to remain illegal, the trade of mammoth ivory has since transformed into a booming economic cornerstone for the region.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

And a tusk hunter can earn a paycheck of more than $60,000 for each mammoth tusk they find.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Here, Evgenia photographs Slava Dolbaev, a tusk hunter in search for woolly mammoths on the eroding coasts of Bolshoy Lyakhovskiy Island.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

The eroding beaches of Bolshoy Lyakhovskiy Island provide fertile territory for discovering recently unearthed tusks.

Once found, each tusk can take anywhere from several hours to several days to fully remove from the thick layers of earth and ice.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Once excavated, the ivory tusks are hauled away on boats and gathered at the hunter’s base camps, where they are then prepared for shipment to buyers.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Evgenia Arbugaeva

It was reported by National Geographic that over 90% of mammoth ivory extracted from Siberia — roughly 60 tons every year — will eventually find its way into the Chinese marketplace.

A lucrative business despite being once considered a bad omen to disturb the bones of these ancient creatures.

Evgenia Arbugaeva

Source : buzzfeed.com

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