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CSI – illegal wildlife edition

February 1, 2011

The forensic industry is booming because of shows like CSI and Forensic Files. And now forensic science is trying to stop another booming industry — the illegal wildlife trade.

When I Googled "New Zealand" I thought I was going to get a picture of a hobbit. You win again Internet.

Thanks to poachers and the Internet, the illegal wildlife trade now rivals the illegal arms and drugs trades internationally and has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Exotic animals are sold as pets or food, and their parts are sold as charms or for ornaments. This causes enormous strain on the environment, and puts many animals on the brink of extinction. Now, for the first time, forensic experts, scientists, vets, and government officials are meeting to combat this damaging industry.

Starting today and lasting through the end of the week, officials will meet in New Zealand’s Auckland Zoo to conduct workshops and attend lectures. The workshops will give New Zealand and Australian participants hands on experience with forensic experts about laboratory examinations, wildlife crime scenes, how to give evidence in court, and more. The lectures will be attended by local and international experts who will discuss DNA techniques and genetics.

This is the first meeting of its kind, so it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. Of course, we’ll be keeping you updated as the week draws to a close. It’s great to see officials of all kinds coming together to stop this abusive trade that is decimating exotic animal populations. Hopefully, they can come up with some new ideas and tips to put a dent in the illegal wildlife trade.

-Susan

Check out the World Wildlife Fund’s site to see what they’re doing to stop the illegal wildlife trade and to find out what you can do to help.

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