Modern forensic science is making efforts to fight against international criminal gangs that kill and smuggle endangered wildlife.
A new laboratory in the Thai capital, Bangkok, is fully equipped to collect DNA from ivory, rhino horn and tiger skin – these encouraging efforts. The laboratory’s noble purpose is to provide evidence of the link between victims and suspects to prosecute, according to laboratory scientists.
Wildlife conservation groups say the killing of elephants, rhinos and tigers along with other endangered species has increased to an alarming level and there is only one large and sophisticated coordinated campaign available. Can help prevent this disaster in time. That is the judgment of CITES – the Convention against the exploitation and trade of endangered plant and animal species was signed in 1973.
Special laboratory in question – located inside the building of Thailand’s National Parks Authority (DNP) – was established with the enthusiastic support of the ASEAN Wildlife Protection Organization – WEN, a local environmental protection organization.
Dr. Kanita Ouitavon – female director of the Laboratory of DNP’s Wild Welfare Department (WIFOS) – said the first animal parts samples were analyzed for DNA from which a bank of gene data from Thai wild species will be established. Kanita Ouitavon laboratory is called DNP-WIFOS for short.
Kanita Ouitavon presented: “New technology is essential for our important mission. Thanks to data banks we can find species or subspecies or even know about the lineages relationship, origin, where they are exploited. The field of illegal business in the wild life does not require much investment, but the profit is lucrative so it attracts many people who are willing to commit the crime. Therefore, our Laboratory is a useful tool to combat this illegal business situation. Using DNA can prove a connection between suspects and wildlife”.
The laboratory, with 10 members, accepts specimens every day, including ivory sections, rhino horns, whole tiger skin and pieces of fur and bones from other animals. Each sample is then classified, photographed before conducting DNA testing. For animal parts outside Thailand, they will be inspected based on the international data bank. Therefore, female Dr. Kanita Ouitavon acknowledged her team of experts desperately needed patience.
Female Dr. Kanita Ouitavon is open about the challenges she faces: “From the beginning we knew very well the people behind the illegal wildlife trade are powerful people. and influence, but, despite all, we still work hard to fight against crime”.
According to Mary Rice, forensic science may be part of the fight for the protection of rare animals, but the first important thing is that governments must resolutely act to eliminate this kind of crime.