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Current and future directions of DNA in wildlife forensic science

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Johnson et al 2014

Wildlife forensic science may not have attained the profile of human identification, yet the scale of criminal activity related to wildlife is extensive by any measure. Service delivery in the arena of wildlife forensic science is often ad hoc, unco-ordinated and unregulated, yet many of those currently dedicated to wildlife conservation and the protection of endangered species are striving to ensure that the highest standards are met. The genetic markers and software used to evaluate data in wildlife forensic science are more varied than those in human forensic identification and are rarely standardised between species. The time and resources required to characterise and validate each genetic maker is considerable and in some cases prohibitive. Further, issues are regularly encountered in the construction of allelic databases and allelic ladders; essential in human identification studies, but also applicable to wildlife criminal investigations. Accreditation and certification are essential in human identification and are currently being strived for in the forensic wildlife community. Examples are provided as to how best practice can be demonstrated in all areas of wildlife crime analysis and ensure that this field of forensic science gains and maintains the respect it deserves. This review is aimed at those conducting human identification to illustrate how research concepts in wildlife forensic science can be used in the criminal justice system, as well as describing the real importance of this type of forensic analysis.

 

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