Reading Comprehension
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Common Information

In response to the increasing environmental damage wrought by poachers, authorities placed a ban on ivory in the 1980s. Although the ban resulted in an initial decrease in the sale and trade of illegal ivory and a concurrent increase in the elephant population, more pressing needs caused most Western nations to withdraw funding for poaching prevention programs. Without significant financial support, poorer countries were unable to effectively combat poachers. The resulting explosion in the ivory trade has seen prices increase to nearly 10 times the $45 per pound price at the beginning of the decade.

Unfortunately, the countries with the worst poaching problems have also tended to be the ones least able to combat the problem due to unstable political systems, corruption, lack of comprehensive enforcement programs, or some combination of all these factors. One primary hindrance to better enforcement of the ivory ban came from an inability to definitively identify the country of origin of illegal ivory. 

Countries used this uncertainty to avoid responsibility for curbing illegal poaching in their territories by attempting to blame other countries for the oversights in enforcement. Now, though, zoologists have perfected a new DNA identification system. First, scientists gathered genetic data from the population of African elephants, an arduous effort that ultimately resulted in a detailed DNA-based map of the distribution of African elephants. Then, the researchers developed a method to extract DNA evidence from ivory, allowing them to match the ivory with elephant populations on the map. Zoologists hope this new method will pinpoint the exact origin of poached ivory and force countries to accept their responsibility in enforcing the ban.


Common Information Question: 4/4

The passage is chiefly concerned with:


exposing the weaknesses of the ivory ban


criticizing countries for failing to accept responsibility for the proliferation of poachers


pleading with Western countries to re-institute financing for the ivory ban


advocating a course of action for countries with poaching problems


detailing a way to overcome a problem that has lessened the effectiveness of the ivory ban

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Option(E) is correct

This is a main idea question. The first part of the passage explains why the ivory ban has become less effective, while the second part shows that there is a potential solution to the problems with the ban. Choice E states this.

Choice A only discusses half of the passage, so it doesn’t go far enough. The primary point is not to criticize countries, so choice B is incorrect.

Funding issues are not the main purpose, making choice C also incorrect.

Choice D has the wrong tone because the author is simply describing the plan, not "advocating" it.

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