Woolly mammoth DNA was recently found in the trinkets and goods being sold in a market in Cambodia.

Scientists who made the discovery had been investigating the illegal trade in elephant ivory, Phys.org first reported. Alex Ball, manager at the WildGenes laboratory, a wildlife conservation charity based at Edinburgh Zoo, said last week that they did not suspect to find remains of woolly mammoths in some of the things they tested in Cambodia. 

"It was a surprise for us to find trinkets made from woolly mammoth ivory in circulation, especially so early into our testing and in a tropical country like Cambodia," he explained.

Ball added that they are investigating where the woolly mammoth DNA came from and if there are more to be found in the country. "It is very hard to say what the implications of this finding are for existing elephant populations, however, we plan to continue our research and will use genetics to work out where it has come from," he continued.

Woolly mammoths were wiped out about 10,000 years ago, so they are not included in the international agreements on endangered species.

Ball and his colleagues at WildGenes are currently tackling wildlife crime using genetic data. One of their missions is to determine the origins of ivory that is being sold in markets in order to help enforcement agencies block illegal trade routes.

He revealed that more than 30,000 elephants are killed across the globe every year for their ivory. One of the places they found that have seen a rise in ivory sale is Cambodia.

Just this December, Cambodia officials seized more than 3.2 tonnes of elephant tusks that entered the country through an abandoned storage container from Mozambique. This is the largest ivory bust in the country so far.

According to a customs official, the U.S. embassy gave the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port the tip that led to the discovery of 1,026 elephant tusks in a container that had arrived in Cambodia last year but had been abandoned. The tusks were hidden among marble inside the container.