DNA forensics a vital tool in cracking wildlife crimes

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With investigating agencies facing increased challenges of collecting evidence to ensure convictions in wildlife crimes, DNA forensics are providing a major headway.

Key Facts:

  • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972; CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (India is a signatory to CITES); United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
  • Wildlife crime can be defined as taking, possession, trade or movement, processing, consumption of wild animals and plants or their derivatives in contravention of any international, regional, or national legislation(s). Infliction of cruelty to and the persecution of wild animals, both free-living and captive are also at times added to this definition.
    • “Wildlife” includes any animal, bees butterflies, crustacean, fish and moths; and aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat. “Wildlife Warden” means the person appointed.
  • Pangolin Scales were seized from Siliguri in August 2017 and April 2018. DNA analysis revealed that these scales were from the Chinese Pangolin whose habitat is restricted to five states in northeast India including parts of north Bengal and is Critically Endangered as per IUCN Red List.
    • Forensic analysis of cooked meat revealed that the meat was that of the Asian Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), a Schedule II species protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

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