From Forests to Forensics: The Applications of DNA Forensic in Wildlife Investigation

Wildlife DNA Forensic is the application of regular DNA forensic methods for proper identification of wildlife parts and their products. Recent advances in molecular genetic studies have generated a new and exciting range of possible applications of genetic methods to wildlife research, conservation, and management.

These advances have led to an explosion in genetic research on wildlife for their identification at molecular level and have increased interest among researchers working in other scientific disciplines for application of genetic technology in wildlife DNA forensic field. 

The use of mitochondrial (mtDNA) in forensic DNA has become an important tool to assist in law enforcement agencies to curb poaching, illegal trading, and smuggling of wildlife (Lyengar, 2014).

Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank – use wildlife specimen to make “fingerprints” of wildlife DNA — a technique used to identify different species and sub–species according to their DNA structure.

With these in store, detectives can quickly compare DNA from the spatter on a butcher’s knife with their library of fingerprints to identify which protected animal’s meat a restaurant has served on the sly. The database and lab will help law enforcement in other ways, too.

Due to the subtle differences in the DNA of a species found in several regions, DNA could tell if a smuggled wildlife animal is from Sabah, Sarawak, Sumatra or Kalimantan.

Source: Mitra et al. (2008), Millawati et al. (2019) and Elizabeth (2007)
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