A pioneering new project trials fingerprinting techniques to battle pangolin poaching.
Forensic fingerprinting techniques will now be used in the battle against illegal wildlife trade as new methods of lifting fingermarks from trafficked animals, are announced today.
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth and international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London), with support from the UK Border force, developed the technology with one particular animal in mind – the pangolin.
Pangolins – also known as scaly anteaters because of their appearance – are found throughout Asia and Africa, but their numbers are dwindling as a result of poaching for international trade.
Around 300 pangolins are poached every day, making these unusual animals the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world. Their meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, while their scales are used in traditional Asian medicine. They are also used in traditional African bush medicine. All trade in pangolin meat and scales is currently outlawed under the international CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) agreement.
This new method uses gelatine lifters with a low-adhesive gelatine layer on one side, which are used universally by forensic practitioners for lifting footwear marks, fingermarks and trace materials off various objects in criminal investigations.
In a preliminary trial, the researchers tested the usability of gelatine lifters for visualising finger marks on pangolin scales. Using 10 pangolin scales from several species, supplied by Grant Miller and Tim Luffman of UK Border Force, each scale was gripped by five participants. A gelatine lifter was applied to the scale, removed and scanned using a BVDA GLScanner system which provided 100 fingermarks (one from the front and one from the back of the scales).
The fingermarks were then graded for the presence of ridge detail on the University’s BVDA gel imaging scanner and 89 per cent of the visualised gelatine lifts examined produced clear ridge detail. This means that law enforcement agencies will, potentially, be able to use the mark to identify persons of interest who have come into contact with the scale.
Dr Nicholas Pamment, who runs the Wildlife Crime Unit at the University of Portsmouth, said: “This is a significant breakthrough for wildlife crime investigation. Wildlife trafficking is a significant factor in the loss of habitats and species. While forensic science techniques are being used as part of the investigation process, there is a lack of research looking at ‘what works’ in the context, or within the limitations of the wildlife crime investigation and in the environments where the investigations take place.
“What we have done is to create a quick, easy and usable method for wildlife crime investigation in the field to help protect these critically endangered mammals. It is another tool that we can use to combat the poaching and trafficking of wild animals.”
Christian Plowman, Law Enforcement Advisor for ZSL, said: “This project is a great example of how multiple organisations are working together to not only develop methods that work, but to optimise the methods for use in wildlife crime investigations.
“The initial catalyst for this project were Dr Brian Chappell (University of Portsmouth) and I, both former Scotland Yard detectives, now working in conservation law enforcement for ZSL and the other in academia. This point of uniqueness underlines and enhances credibility for the project and for both organisations.”
Grant Miller, Head of the UK’s National CITES Enforcement Team, said: “We know how prized pangolins are by those engaged in wildlife crime. I am delighted that Border Force has been able to play its part in the development of this method of lifting fingermarks from pangolin scales, technology which will help bring poachers and smugglers to justice.”
The researchers have now developed gelatine lifter packs for Wildlife Rangers in Kenya and Cameroon to help in their fight against illegal poaching of pangolins. Each pack contains 10 gelatine lifters, scissors, insulating packs, evidence bags, a roller and a simple pictorial guide for the Rangers to follow. The field packs for the Kenyan wildlife service were initially provided for the examination of poached elephant ivory and dead elephants killed by poachers.
Jac Reed, Senior Specialist Forensic Technician at the University of Portsmouth, said: ““What is fundamental to this method is its application, it is easy to use and employs low-level technology. This is so important for rangers in the field who need to be able to get good quality fingermarks very quickly to ensure their own safety. It is also important for law enforcement in developing countries who may not have access to more advanced technologies and expensive forensic equipment.”
The Latest on: Illegal wildlife trade
via Google News
The Latest on: Illegal wildlife trade
- Feature: More Chinese IT companies join global battle against illegal wildlife trade on March 7, 2019 at 12:10 am
BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- More Chinese players have joined in a global coalition to end the online illegal wildlife trade, pledging to contribute new technologies and greater social influences to e... […]
- Big data helps illegal wildlife fight on March 6, 2019 at 5:24 pm
However, increasing advertisements of illegal wildlife products are found in new emerging channels, such as short video streaming apps, traditional Chinese handicraft apps and second-hand trade apps. ... […]
- How the sapphire trade is driving lemurs toward extinction on March 6, 2019 at 3:24 am
Our goal was to witness firsthand the effects of illegal gem mining on some of the last remaining ... and trading the gems, dominate the trade in Madagascar. Murshid Mohammed, 29, is a dealer in Ambat... […]
- Global Internet Giants Gather to Protect Wildlife with Technology on March 6, 2019 at 2:01 am
Participants also discussed how global e-commerce, technology, and social media companies effectively prevent and combat illegal wildlife trade on their channels. Meanwhile, an additional eight intern... […]
- Africa: Nigeria, African Losing Billions of Dollars to Illegal Wildlife Exploitation on March 5, 2019 at 9:37 pm
According to the AU, international illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest illegal global trade (after drugs, counterfeiting and human trafficking) and estimated to be worth up to US$23 ... […]
- UNODC: Nigeria Risks Evolving into Transit Hub for Illicit Trade in Wildlife Products on March 5, 2019 at 3:28 am
The commemoration of the 2019 World Wildlife Day, on March 3, has brought to fore the activities of trans-border criminal gangs in what is believed to be thriving multimillion Dollar illegal trade in ... […]
- Minister decries depletion of wildlife stock, smuggling of elephant tusks on March 4, 2019 at 10:30 am
“More disturbing is the fact that Nigeria was mentioned as the source in spite of our laudable conservation efforts which informed our leading the war against illegal Wildlife Trade in the West ... […]
- Sabah views seriously illegal wildlife trade on social media sites on March 3, 2019 at 5:22 am
LAHAD DATU: The Sabah government takes a serious view of illegal wildlife trade, including the sale of exotic meats on social media sites. Sabah’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister A... […]
- ‘Let us curb illegal wildlife trade’ on February 27, 2019 at 12:02 am
GOVERNMENT says there is urgent need to curb illegal wildlife trade as it a recipe for corruption and tax evasion. Ministry of Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Howard Sikwela said the unlawful sel... […]
via Bing News