New research cracks illegal wildlife trade | 10/24/2018 | Staff
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Scientists have developed a revolutionary way to determine if animals are being illegally trafficked.

UNSW Sydney scientists—in collaboration with Taronga Conservation Society Australia, UTS (University of Technology Sydney) and ANSTO (Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) - have developed a revolutionary way to determine if a confiscated animal is being illegally trafficked by checking chemical markers present in keratin such as quills, feathers and hair.

US - Wildlife - Trade - Market - Worldwide

Valued up to US$23 billion annually, the illegal wildlife trade is the fourth-largest criminal market worldwide, and while legal trading of captive-bred or farmed animals is legal, many animals are illegally caught in the wild and passed off by traders as legal—knowing that the provenance cannot be verified.

Based on the science behind the UNSW and ANSTO Feather Map Project, this new technique developed between the institutions and published in Scientific Reports this month, identifies chemical markers in keratin that establishes with more than 96 percent accuracy whether the animal has been eating a natural, wild diet or a captive diet. Consequently, it's now possible to identify whether an animal is captive-bred or wild, with future research looking at identifying where in the world an animal has come from.

Dr - Kate - Brandis - UNSW - Science

Dr. Kate Brandis from UNSW Science is lead author on the paper and founded the Australian Feather Map. She said that the challenge now was how best to put this science in the hands of law enforcement.

"Analysis of quill,...
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