February 6, 2015
The wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, is deploying a new forensic weapon DNA testing to track illegal ivory products responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of endangered elephants in Asia and Africa. Widely used in criminal cases, forensic DNA examination (Deoxyribonucleic acid) can help identify whether the elephant tusk is from Asia or [ post A New Forensic Weapon to Track Illegal Ivory Trade appeared first on Inter Press Service.The wildlife trade monitoring network, TRAFFIC, is deploying a new forensic weapon DNA testing to track illegal ivory products responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of endangered elephants in Asia and Africa.Widely used in criminal cases, forensic DNA examination (Deoxyribonucleic acid) can help identify whether the elephant tusk is from Asia or Africa.”The ability to use DNA and other forensic expertise provides great support to law enforcement.” Adisorn NoochdumrongAsked whether this is a first, Dr Richard Thomas, global communications coordinator at the UK based TRAFFIC, told IPS: “It the first time I aware of when it been used to test ivory items for sale to prove their (illegal) provenance.”However, he added, it worth noting that at the March 2013 meeting of CITES (the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), State Parties to the Convention were instructed that forensic information should routinely be gathered from all large scale seizures of ivory (500kg).Hence this is also an important demonstration of one technique that can be employed in the fight against the illegal trade in endangered species, he said.The current project is a collaborative effort between Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) and TRAFFIC, to battle the widespread illegal trade of ivory in Thailand.Asked whether African countries have similar projects in collaboration with TRAFFIC, Dr. Thomas told IPS, “Not currently, although the scope of DNA and stable isotope analysis of ivory are being examined by others as means to determine the geographic origin of ivory within Africa.”He also pointed out that any wildlife product, by definition, is associated with life and therefore open for DNA examination.”So, in theory it could be a very widely employed technique in addressing wildlife trafficking.”According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Sri Lankan and Sumatran elephants are on a list of endangered species, along with the black rhino, mountain gorilla, Bengal tiger, the blue whale and the green turtle, among others.WWF says the global illicit wildlife trade is estimated at over 10 billion dollars annually and is controlled by criminal networks.Related IPS ArticlesSoldiers Trade in Illegal IvoryChinese Feed Illegal Ivory TradeIvory Course Runs From Africa to Malaysia to ChinaSpecifically on the ivory trade, Dr Thomas told IPS, “We very wary about speculating over black market prices in part, because they black market and therefore unverifiable, but more because of anecdotal evidence that high prices quoted in the media can lead to interest from the criminal fraternity in getting involved in trafficking.
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