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Combating wildlife crime
Linzi Wilson-Wilde
Published online: 22 July 2010
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010
It is with great pleasure that I introduce this special edition
dedicated to wildlife crime. Wildlife crime is an important
area of law enforcement that I have a strong commitment
to. It involves the illegal trade in animals, plants and their
derivatives and can result in the depletion of natural
resources, invasion of pest species and the transmission of
diseases. For the first time an international journal has
dedicated an entire edition to the issue of wildlife crime,
bringing together submissions from numerous global
experts regarding their work in this area. The aim of this
initiative is to generate attention to this significant criminal
The current global situation is summarized and dis-
cussed in the commentary by Wilson-Wilde [1]. In a
positive move, international action is becoming more
coordinated and an overview of the 2009 INTERPOL
Wildlife Crime Group meeting in Brazil is presented in the
commentary by Neme [2].
At the international level there are 175 signatories to the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) [3]. CITES provides a
system of control to inhibit the exploitation of animals and
plants and prevent trade from threatening the extinction of
endangered species. Fauna and flora are listed on one of the
three Appendices of CITES. Appendix I lists species where
international trade is prohibited (exceptions are made for
non-commercial purposes, such as scientific research),
Appendix II lists species where international trade is reg-
ulated in circumstances where the trade does not endanger
the survival of the species and Appendix III lists species
where international trade is regulated at the request of a
particular country (for example Uruguay has listed the
eleven banded armadillo). Paramount to the enforcement of
CITES and the subsequent prosecution of offenders is the
ability to identify the species in question. Alacs et al. [4]
provide an excellent review of genetic DNA analysis
methods used in the forensic investigation of wildlife
crime, covering various available techniques that can be
applied and techniques that have potential for future
application. Tobe and Linacre take this a step further
investigating the use of DNA techniques in mixed samples
from more than one species [5] and Spencer et al. [6]
extend DNA techniques to the analysis of historical and
degraded samples with much success.
Offenders of wildlife crime can be categorized into three
main groups; minor offenders, organized illegal trading and
serious major criminal activity [7]. Minor offenders gen-
erally relate to abuses against conditions in permits and are
more opportunistic types of crime. These offenders are
usually tracked through inadequate record keeping and
generally involve exchanges between wildlife collectors.
Organized illegal trading moves into the realms of delib-
erate clandestine poaching with intent to make gain and
meet the needs of the market. It requires planning and can
threaten wildlife, with no consideration of their habitat, for
monetary gain in selling specimens on the black market.
Serious major criminal activity differs from the latter in
that it is highly organized involving major criminal groups
who are professional, financially backed and specifically
market products. These offenders may also be involved in
major fraud and drug shipping [7]. Therefore combating
criminal activity requires a well-equipped forensic facility
to provide cutting edge technology, maximizing eviden-
tiary outputs. Setting up such a laboratory is not easy and
L. Wilson-Wilde (&)
ANZPAA National Institute of Forensic Science,
Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Forensic Sci Med Pathol (2010) 6:149–150
DOI 10.1007/s12024-010-9179-4
Ogden clearly highlights some of the issues and provides
an insight into how this might be achieved [8].
It is difficult to ascertain specifically what drives
demand in particular wildlife trade; however it is thought
that a number of factors such as fashion, rarity of the
species, trends in alternative remedies and medicine and
criminal elements each play a part. Fashion can have a
major impact and is highly variable. Particularly endan-
gered species cost more and can therefore be in higher
demand by collectors due to higher profits compared to the
risks and penalties incurred. Simply placing a species on
the CITES list, Appendix I can make a species more
appealing. Yates et al. [9] look at the identification of hairs
from elephant and giraffe used in traditional style jewelry
(presumably bound for the tourist trade) using light
A number of very interesting case studies are included in
this edition to highlight the impact wildlife crime has on
the animals involved and the type of forensic analysis that
must be undertaken to assist the investigation. Byard et al.
[10] present a case study on unusual upper aerodigestive
tract obstructions in wild dolphins causing death. Byard
et al. [11] also discuss a case study on unexpected deaths in
captive fur seals and Carapetis et al. [12] present a case
illustrating the consequences of ingesting foreign material
by seabirds. In the article by Johnson two interesting case
studies are discussed regarding the illegal importation of
live bird eggs and the illegal possession of shark fins [13].
Wildlife crime also includes offences involving
domesticated species, such as animal cruelty cases and
where an animal may be used to link an individual to the
commission of an offence (for example dog hairs on a
suspect). El-Sayed et al. [14] investigate the use of DNA
analysis in domesticated species and Clarke and Vanden-
berg look at the application of canine DNA profiling in
forensic casework [15]. Wilson-Wilde et al. [16] look at
species identification in the context of a laboratory con-
ducting standard DNA analysis and implications and rec-
ommendations for implementing a species identification
method. Two book reviews are also included in this special
edition, Forensic Science in Wildlife Investigations, edited
by Linacre and Introduction to Veterinary and Compara-
tive Forensic Medicine by Cooper and Cooper.
We hope that the various concepts, research and issues
discussed in this edition are thought provoking and provide
an insight into this significant global issue.
1. Wilson-Wilde L. Wildlife crime-a global problem. Forensic Sci
Med Pathol. 2010;6:221–2.
2. Neme L. INTERPOL’s Wildlife Crime Working Group Meeting.
Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:223–4.
3. CITES 2010. Accessed
10 June 2010.
4. Alacs EA, Georges A, FitzSimmons NN, Robertson J. DNA
Detective: A review of molecular approaches to wildlife foren-
sics. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:180–94.
5. Tobe SS, Linacre A. DNA typing in wildlife crime: recent
developments in species identification. Forensic Sci Med Pathol.
6. Spencer PD, Schmidt D, Hummel S. Identification of historical
specimens and wildlife seizures originating from highly degraded
sources of kangaroos. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:225–32.
7. McDowell D. Wildlife crime policy and the law. Canberra:
Australian Government Publishing Service; 1997.
8. Ogden R. Forensic science, genetics and wildlife biology: getting
the right mix for a wildlife DNA forensics lab. Forensic Sci Med
Pathol. 2010;6:172–9.
9. Yates BC, Espinoza EO, Baker BW. Forensic species identifi-
cation of elephant (Elephantidae) and giraffe (Giraffidae) tail hair
using cross section analysis and light microscopy. Forensic Sci
Med Pathol. 2010;6:165–71.
10. Byard RW, Tomo I, Kemper CM, Gibbs SE, Bossley M, Mach-
ado A, Hill M. Unusual causes of fatal upper aerodigestive tract
obstruction in wild bottlenose dolphins (Turiops aduncus).
Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:207–10.
11. Byard RW, Machado A, Braun K, Solomon LB, Boardman W.
Mechanisms of deaths in captive juvenile New Zealand fur seals
(Arctocephalus forsteri). Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:
12. Carapetis E, Machado AJ, Byard RW. Lethal consequences of
ingested foreign material in seabirds. Forensic Sci Med Pathol.
13. Johnson R. The use of DNA identification in prosecuting wildlife-
traffickers in Australia. Do the penalties fit the crimes? Forensic
Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:211–6.
14. El-Sayed Y, Mohamed O, Ashry K, El-Rahman SA. Using spe-
cies-specific repeat and PCR-RFLP in typing of DNA derived
from blood of human and animal species. Forensic Sci Med
Pathol. 2010;6:158–64.
15. Clarke M, Vandenberg N. Dog attack: the application of canine
DNA profiling in forensic casework. Forensic Sci Med Pathol.
16. Wilson-Wilde L, Norman J, Robertson J, Sarre S, Georges A.
Current issues in species identification for forensic science and
the validity of using the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene.
Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:233–41.
150 Forensic Sci Med Pathol (2010) 6:149–150
... Illegal wildlife trade is undertaken by three offender types: minor offenders, organised traders, and major crime syndicates (Wilson-Wilde, 2010). This results in a diverse array of tactics to extract and traffic wildlife, and requires an equally multifaceted approach to quantify and curtail wildlife crime. ...
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Estimates of illegal wildlife trade vary significantly and are often based on incomplete datasets, inferences from CITES permits or customs seizures. As a result, annual global estimates of illegal wildlife trade can vary by several billions of US dollars. Translating these figures into species extraction rates is equally challenging, and estimating illegal take accurately is not achievable for many species. Due to their nesting strategies that allow for census data collection, sea turtles offer an exception. On the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, three sea turtle species (leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea; green, Chelonia mydas; and hawksbill, Eretmochelys imbricata) are exploited by poachers. Despite the consumption of turtle eggs and meat being illegal, they are consumed as a cultural food source and seasonal treat. Conservation programmes monitor nesting beaches, collect abundance data and record poaching events. Despite the availability of robust long-term datasets, quantifying the rate of poaching has yet to be undertaken. Using data from the globally important nesting beach, Tortuguero, as well as beaches Playa Norte and Pacuare on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, we modelled the spatial and temporal distribution of poaching of the three sea turtle species. Here, we present data from 2006 to 2019 on a stretch of coastline covering c.37 km. We identified poaching hotspots that correlated with populated areas. While the poaching hotspots persisted over time, we found poaching is declining at each of our sites. However, we urge caution when interpreting this result as the impact of poaching varies between species. Given their low abundance on these beaches, the poaching pressure on leatherback and hawksbill turtles is far greater than the impact on the abundant green turtles. We attribute the decline in poaching to supply-side conservation interventions in place at these beaches. Finally, we highlight the value of data sharing and collaborations between conservation NGOs.
... Wildlife crime encompasses varied illegal activities and occurs in every country. Wildlife crime "…involves the illegal trade in animals, plants and their derivatives and can result in the depletion of natural resources, invasion of pest species and the transmission of diseases" [3]. The impact on particular species of flora and fauna can be devastating, and it has a wider detrimental effect on ecological systems [4]. ...
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This paper presents data about wildlife crime in Croatia. The data were gathered from qualitative interviews and personal communications with individuals involved in wildlife crime-related research, and/or prevention and detection work or recreation. The results show that poaching is a recognized problem. There is a variety of commonly poached mammals, fish and bird species. We conclude that evidence about wildlife crime should be collated drawing on forensic techniques.
... For species identification, two reliable and court-accepted methods commonly employed by most forensic laboratories are molecular testing and microscopic examination [7,8]. The advantage of the molecular approach is its high accuracy and sensitivity. ...
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Tiger population has dramatically decreased due to illegal consumption and commercialisation of their body parts. Frequently, hair samples are the only evidence found in the crime scene. Thus, they play an important role in species identification for wildlife forensic investigation. In this study, we provide the first in-depth report on a variety of qualitative and quantitative characteristics of tiger guard hairs (24 hairs per individual from four individuals). The proposed method could reduce subjectivity of expert opinions on species identification based on hair morphology. Variations in 23 hair morphological characteristics were quantified at three levels: hair section, body region, and intra-species. The results indicate statistically significant variations in most morphological characteristics in all levels. Intra-species variations of four variables, namely hair length, hair index, scale separation and scale pattern, were low. Therefore, identification of tiger hairs using these multiple features in combination with other characteristics with high inter-species variations (e. g. medulla type) should bring about objective and accurate tiger hair identification. The method used should serve as a guideline and be further applied to other species to establish a wildlife hair morphology database. Statistical models could then be constructed to distinguish species and provide evidential values in terms of likelihood ratios.
... A challenge to authorities monitoring and policing both the legal and illicit wildlife trade, however, is that, in the absence of DNA testing to confirm taxonomic identity, it is nearly impossible, without expert knowledge, to distinguish between lion and tiger bones [12]. Species identification is paramount to the enforcement of CITES regulations [13], therefore there is also a need for practical methods that can be used by customs officials to distinguish between lion and tiger bones with near certainty when the species identity is in question. In light of this need for a new set of tools to cope with the now established trade in lion bones and concerns that tiger bones are being laundered in South Africa, the aim of this paper is to provide a guide to the average mass of lion skeletons and skulls, and a means for distinguishing the skulls of lions from tigers. ...
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South Africa has legally exported substantial quantities of lion bones to Southeast Asia and China since 2008, apparently as part of the multinational trade substituting bones and body parts of other large cats for those of the tiger in wine and other health tonics. The legal sale of lion bones may mask an illegal trade, the size of which is only partially known. An observed component of the illegal trade is that quantities of skeletons are sometimes declared falsely/fraudulently on CITES export permits. Furthermore, there are emerging concerns that bones from tigers reared in captivity in South Africa and elsewhere are being laundered as lion bones using CITES Appendix II permits. There is therefore a need for tools to monitor the trade in lion body parts and to distinguish between lions and tigers. Our research indicates that it is possible to use skeletons, skulls and cranial sutures to detect misdeclarations in the lion bone trade. It is also possible to use the average mass of a lion skeleton to corroborate the numbers of skeletons declared on CITES permits, relative to the weight of the consolidated consignments stated on the air waybills. When the mass of consolidated consignments of skeletons destined for export was regressed against the number of skeletons in that consignment, there was a strong correlation between the variables (r2 = 0.992) that can be used as a predictor of the accuracy of a declaration on a CITES permit. Additionally, the skulls of lions and tigers differ: two cranial sutures of lions align and their mandibles rock when placed on a flat surface, whereas the cranial sutures of tigers are not aligned and their mandibles rest naturally on two contact points. These two morphological differences between the skulls of tigers and lions are easy to observe at a glance and provide a method for distinguishing between the species if illegal trade in the bones is suspected and the skulls are present. These identifications should ideally be confirmed by a DNA test to provide rigorous evidence to prosecute offenders violating CITES regulations.
... Most of the time, the potential profit far outweighs the maximum penalty for the alleged crime [6]. Interpol estimates that illegal wildlife trade is the largest black market worldwide, second only to the traffic in drugs [7][8][9]. ...
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Background In forensic science there are many types of crime that involve animals. Therefore, the identification of the species has become an essential investigative tool. The exhibits obtained from such offences are very often a challenge for forensic experts. Indeed, most biological materials are traces, hair or tanned fur. With hair samples, a common forensic approach should proceed from morphological and structural microscopic examination to DNA analysis. However, the microscopy of hair requires a lot of experience and a suitable comparative database to be able to recognize with a high degree of accuracy that a sample comes from a particular species and then to determine whether it is a protected one. DNA analysis offers the best opportunity to answer the question, ‘What species is this?’ In our work, we analyzed different samples of fur coming from China used to make hats and collars. Initially, the samples were examined under a microscope, then the mitochondrial DNA was tested for species identification. For this purpose, the genetic markers used were the 12S and 16S ribosomal RNA, while the hypervariable segment I of the control region was analyzed afterwards, to determine whether samples belonged to the same individual. Results Microscopic examination showed that the fibres were of animal origin, although it was difficult to determine with a high degree of confidence which species they belonged to and if they came from a protected species. Therefore, DNA analysis was essential to try to clarify the species of these fur samples. Conclusions Macroscopic and microscopic analysis confirmed the hypothesis regarding the analyzed hair belonging to real animals, although it failed to prove with any kind of certainty which actual family it came from, therefore, the species remains unknown. Sequence data analysis and comparisons with the samples available in GenBank showed that the hair, in most cases, belonged to the Canidae family, and in one case only to Felidae.
Résumé En criminalistique, la biologie est souvent synonyme d’ADN. Toutefois, des disciplines telles que l’entomologie, la palynologie ou la botanique en sont des domaines qui peuvent se révéler particulièrement pertinents en matière d’enquête. Depuis 1992, le département Faune Flore Forensiques (3F) couvre la plus grande partie des champs analytiques liés à la présence d’animaux, d’insectes, de diatomées et de pollens. La détermination d’une empreinte environnementale implique l’application d’une suite de techniques d’analyses d’éléments biologiques afin d’apporter de l’information en criminalistique. Ces bio-indicateurs doivent être compris comme des éléments parcellaires d’un milieu original qui se compose d’un ensemble hétérogène d’animaux ou de végétaux. Tous sont susceptibles d’être rencontrés sur une scène d’infraction, sur un cadavre, une victime, un lieu, ou un objet et sont potentiellement des indices. Ces disciplines sont d’autant plus pertinentes lorsqu’elles sont intégrées dans une approche multidisciplinaire.
Taxon-specific DNA tests are applied to many ecological and management questions, increasingly using environmental DNA (eDNA). eDNA facilitates non-invasive ecological studies, but introduces additional risks of bias and error. For effective application, PCR primers must be developed for each taxon and validated in each system. We outline a nine step framework for the development and validation of taxon-specific primers for eDNA analysis in ecological studies, involving reference database construction, phylogenetic evaluation of the target gene, primer design, primer evaluation in silico, and laboratory evaluation of primer specificity, sensitivity, and utility. Our framework makes possible a rigorous evaluation of likely sources of error. The first five steps can be conducted relatively rapidly and (where reference DNA sequences are available) require minimal laboratory resources, enabling assessment of primer suitability before investing in further work. Steps six to eight require more costly laboratory analyses, but are essential to evaluate risks of false positive and false negative results, while step 9 relates to field implementation. As an example, we have developed and evaluated primers to specifically amplify part of the mitochondrial ND2 gene from Australian bandicoots. If adopted during the early stages of primer development, our framework will facilitate large-scale implementation of well-designed DNA tests to detect specific wildlife from eDNA samples. This will provide researchers and managers with an understanding of the strengths and limitations of their data and the conclusions that can be drawn from them. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
With the development of biotechnology, forensic DNA identification technology in protection of wild animals has been used more and more widely. This review introduces the global status of wildlife crime and the relevant protection to wildlife, outlines the practical applications of forensic DNA identification technology with regard to species identification, determination of geographic origin, individual identification and paternity identification. It focus on the techniques commonly used in DNA typing and their merits and demerits, as well as the problems and prospects of forensic DNA technology for wildlife conservation.
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Species determination of tissue specimens, including blood, is an important component of forensic analysis to distinguish human from animal remains. DNA markers based on a method of species-specific PCR and amplifying the 359-base pair (bp) fragment of the mitochondrially encoded cytochrome-b gene and then digestion with the TaqI restriction enzyme were developed for detection and discrimination of human, cattle, buffalo, horse, sheep, pig, dog, cat and chicken blood samples. The results reveal that PCR-amplification of the gene encoding the species-specific repeat (SSR) region generated 603 bp in cattle and buffalo, 221 bp in horse, 374 bp in sheep, <or=100 bp in pig, 808 bp in dog, 672 bp in cat and 50 bp in chicken. Restriction analysis of the amplified 359-bp portion of the cytochrome-b gene using the TaqI restriction enzyme results in species-specific restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) between buffalo, cattle and human. Two different bands were generated in buffalo (191 and 168 bp) and human (209 and 150 bp), with no digestion in cattle (359 bp). Cytochrome-b is a highly conserved region and consequently a good molecular marker for diagnostic studies. Therefore, the two complementary techniques, SSR-PCR and PCR-RFLP, could be used successfully as routine methods in forensics for sensitive, rapid, simple and inexpensive identification of the species in bloodstains.
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The use of genetic identification techniques in wildlife forensic investigations has increased significantly in recent years. The utilization of DNA is especially important when species identification using other methods are inconclusive. Australia has strict laws against illegal importation of wildlife as well as laws to protect its unique biodiversity from pests and diseases of quarantine concern. Two separate case studies in which genetic identification was essential for species identification are presented-the first involved illegally held shark fins, the second illegally imported live bird eggs. In the latter case genetic identification enabled charges to be laid for illegal importation of CITES Appendix I species. Australian laws allow for some of the highest penalties for illegal trade of wildlife compared to other countries, however only a fraction of cases are prosecuted and penalties applied to date have been lower than the maximum permitted. Both of the reported cases resulted in fines, and one in imprisonment of the offender, which provides a persuasive precedent for future prosecutions.
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Wildlife DNA forensics is receiving increasing coverage in the popular press and has begun to appear in the scientific literature in relation to several different fields. Recognized as an applied subject, it rests on top of very diverse scientific pillars ranging from biochemistry through to evolutionary genetics, all embedded within the context of modern forensic science. This breadth of scope, combined with typically limited resources, has often left wildlife DNA forensics hanging precariously between human DNA forensics and academics keen to seek novel applications for biological research. How best to bridge this gap is a matter for regular debate among the relatively few full-time practitioners in the field. The decisions involved in establishing forensic genetic services to investigate wildlife crime can be complex, particularly where crimes involve a wide range of species and evidential questions. This paper examines some of the issues relevant to setting up a wildlife DNA forensics laboratory based on experiences of working in this area over the past 7 years. It includes a discussion of various models for operating individual laboratories as well as options for organizing forensic testing at higher national and international levels.
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Species identification techniques commonly utilized in Australian Forensic Science laboratories are gel immunodifussion antigen antibody reactions and hair comparison analysis. Both of these techniques have significant limitations and should be considered indicative opinion based tests. The Barcode of Life Initiative aims to sequence a section of DNA (~648 base pairs) for the Cytochrome Oxidase I mitochondrial gene (COI) in all living species on Earth, with the data generated being uploaded to the Barcode of Life Database (BOLD) which can then be used for species identification. The COI gene therefore offers forensics scientists an opportunity to use the marker to analyze unknown samples and compare sequences generated in BOLD. Once sequences from enough species are on the database, it is anticipated that routine identification of an unknown species may be possible. However, most forensic laboratories are not yet suited to this type of analysis and do not have the expertise to fully interpret the implications of matches and non matches involving a poorly sampled taxa (for example where there are cryptic species) and in providing the required opinion evidence. Currently, the use of BOLD is limited by the number of relevant species held in the database and the quality assurance and regulation of sequences that are there. In this paper, the COI methodology and BOLD are tested on a selection of introduced and Australian mammals in a forensic environment as the first step necessary in the implementation of this approach in the Australian context. Our data indicates that the COI methodology performs well on distinct species but needs further exploration when identifying more closely related species. It is evident from our study that changes will be required to implement DNA based wildlife forensics using the BOLD approach for forensic applications and recommendations are made for the future adoption of this technology into forensic laboratories.
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Here we present methods for distinguishing tail hairs of African elephants (Loxodonta africana), Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), and giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) from forensic contexts. Such hairs are commonly used to manufacture jewelry artifacts that are often sold illegally in the international wildlife trade. Tail hairs from these three species are easily confused macroscopically, and morphological methods for distinguishing African and Asian tail hairs have not been published. We used cross section analysis and light microscopy to analyze the tail hair morphology of 18 individual African elephants, 18 Asian elephants, and 40 giraffes. We found that cross-sectional shape, pigment placement, and pigment density are useful morphological features for distinguishing the three species. These observations provide wildlife forensic scientists with an important analytical tool for enforcing legislation and international treaties regulating the trade in elephant parts.
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Species identification has become a tool in the investigation of acts of alleged wildlife crimes. This review details the steps required in DNA testing in wildlife crime investigations and highlights recent developments where not only can individual species be identified within a mixture of species but multiple species can be identified simultaneously. 'What species is this?' is a question asked frequently in wildlife crime investigations. Depending on the material being examined, DNA analysis may offer the best opportunity to answer this question. Species testing requires the comparison of the DNA type from the unknown sample to DNA types on a database. The areas of DNA tested are on the mitochondria and include predominantly the cytochrome b gene and the cytochrome oxidase I gene. Standard analysis requires the sequencing of part of one of these genes and comparing the sequence to that held on a repository of DNA sequences such as the GenBank database. Much of the DNA sequence of either of these two genes is conserved with only parts being variable. A recent development is to target areas of those sequences that are specific to a species; this can increase the sensitivity of the test with no loss of specificity. The benefit of targeting species specific sequences is that within a mixture of two of more species, the individual species within the mixture can be identified. This identification would not be possible using standard sequencing. These new developments can lead to a greater number of samples being tested in alleged wildlife crimes.
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Juvenile seals are sometimes encountered in waters around South Australia with injuries and/or diseases that require veterinary treatment. Two cases are reported where apparently stable animals died soon after being rescued due to quite disparate conditions. In Case 1 a juvenile male New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) was found unexpectedly dead in its enclosure. A necropsy examination revealed an emaciated juvenile male with no injuries. The intestine was filled throughout its length with melena stool that was due to heavy infestation of the stomach with roundworms with adjacent gastritis. Death was due to shock from upper gastrointestinal blood loss secondary to parasitosis. In Case 2 a second juvenile male New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) also died unexpectedly in its enclosure. It had been listless with loud respirations since capture. At necropsy there was no blood around the head, neck or mouth, and no acute external injuries were identified. An area of induration was, however, present over the snout with fragmentation of underlying bones. The maxilla was freely mobile and CT scanning revealed multiple comminuted fractures of the adjacent facial skeleton. Examination of the defleshed skull showed fragmentation of the facial skeleton with roughening of bones in keeping with osteomyelitis. Death was attributed to sepsis from osteomyelitis of a comminuted midfacial fracture. These cases demonstrate two unusual and occult conditions that may be present in recently retrieved juvenile fur seals. Failure to establish the correct diagnosis rapidly may result in death soon after capture. The usefulness of imaging techniques such as CT scanning in delineating underlying injuries prior to necropsy is clearly demonstrated.
A pied cormorant (Phalacrocroax varius) was found sleeping on rocks in a coastal region near Adelaide. Examination revealed entanglement by fishing line with superficial wounds to the left leg. The cormorant was also reported to have ingested a number of fishing hooks, however, the exact location of the hooks was not known. In addition, the bird was found to be underweight and shocked. X-ray examination revealed two ingested fishing hooks embedded in the esophagus in the midneck, and in the stomach (Fig. 1). These had caused the cormorant to be unable to extend its neck for diving, feeding and/or flying. Surgical intervention was undertaken.