Field Based Identification of Tiger DNA
Developing DNA identification of tiger species in the field
The illegal wildlife trade sadly poses a huge threat to the survival of many species across the world. This includes the tiger (Panthera tigris) as their parts are currently traded illegally in traditional Asian medicines. The officials at borders who are tasked with enforcing wildlife trade legislation have a really difficult job. This is because they have to carry out routine inspections and targeted investigations on items that are seized at the borders, many of which are made of heavily processed materials. Currently, to identify the unknown species using DNA, samples require laboratory testing. It can take days or even weeks to determine what the species is. If the investigation is forensic in nature, the results may be needed rapidly to be successful.
We will be developing an investigative test to be used in the field by personnel such as police and custom officials. It means that law enforcement officials will be able to obtain results much more quickly, and the results will be simple enough that they can be interpreted by employees with minimum training.
This is a completely novel approach, as it removes the need for a laboratory. The test will be be developed to identify samples to sub-species level, identifying whether the animal was a Bengal, Sumatran or other sub-species of tiger, which will help determine where it came from.
We are getting promising results from the investigative test we are developing. We are now able to distinguish between a number of species. Our next steps are to test the probe’s sensitivity and look at the potential effects on the test of herbs which are often used as a part of traditional Asian medicine.
This project is possible thanks to our generous donors. Can you help us continue?