Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wildlife Forensic Science

Poachers beware

image credit [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elephant_in_Tanzania_3306_Nevit.jpg]

Did you know that forensic science is used to help conservationists; the government and wildlife officers solve environmental crimes? In the U.S. several agencies maintain forensic labs (e.g. US Fish and Wildlife, NOAA). The Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS) was formed in 2009 to help this field grow into an integrated discipline of science (SWFS, 2012).

Wildlife forensics is where the law meets science and conservation. Non-human biological evidence is used for solving an array of cases from oil soaked birds and seafood fraud to poaching. Scientists have been making progress in the fight to save elephants from poachers.

By using samples of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) taken from illegal tusks, researchers have been able to guide officials to specific locations where elephants are being poached (SD, 2012). Nuclear DNA is a good marker for tracing the origins of the ivory because female elephants do not migrate between herds (SD, 2012).  DNA can also be obtained by using dung  samples.

There are several articles on the subject of DNA, elephants and poaching available through our electronic databases. The list below is a sample search in Searchwise (from our home page) using the keywords “DNA from ivory”

1. DNA from ivory may lead to poachers                                                                  by RANDOLPH E. SCHMID and AP Science Writer
Associated Press, 02/26/2007, p. 1
The seizure of more than six tons of ivory in Singapore in 2002 has helped solve part of that puzzle, according to a report by Samuel K...

2. Isolation of DNA from small amounts of elephant ivory                                                  by Mailand, Celia
Nature Protocols, ISSN 1754-2189, 09/2007, Volume 2, Issue 9, pp. 2228 - 2232
This protocol describes a method for the extraction of DNA from elephant ivory. These techniques are being used to assign geographic origin to poached ivory...
3. DNA Pinpoints Poached Ivory Tusks                                                                           by Patrick Barry
Science News, ISSN 0036-8423, 03/10/2007, Volume 171, Issue 10, p. 158.... Adapting the existing technique, researchers referred to a reference map of DNA taken from elephant tissue or dung are the at the location throughout central Africa, the technique revealed...

4. Dung DNA set to foil ivory poachers                                                                                       by Flintoft, Louisa
Nature Reviews Genetics, ISSN 1471-0056, 11/2004, Volume 5, Issue 11, p. 806
...Elephant dung could be more valuable than ivory - to the elephants at least. A test that compares DNA from illegal ivory with maps of genetic variation based...



Science Daily (SD)

Society for Wildlife Forensic Science (SWFS)

1 comment:

  1. Forensic science helps in finding the hidden truth, which we can't see,the way it works is awesome.Thank you..DNA Test Immigration