A DNA test will help fight poaching. It analyzes the composition of ivory

Ivory, which is a tooth in its structure, contains only a tiny amount

DNA. However, Professor Linacre said the new testing procedure is able to work with a small amount of bound DNA to produce results with perfect accuracy.

The elephant population has declined dramatically, mostlydue to illegal extraction of ivory. Although trade in such products is protected by national CITES laws and agreements to prevent further population decline, poaching and illegal trade in ivory persists.

A number of loopholes help businesses grow. For example, the ivory trade of African elephants is illegal in Thailand. However, the law allows the possession of Asian elephant ivory with permission from the authorities. It is difficult to determine the required differences with tests alone.

“This means that to ensure compliancelegislation needs to classify the legal status of the seized ivory products, ”explains Professor Linacre. “For this purpose, previously used methods based on DNA tests. But they have a detection limit for genetic material and are not suitable for highly degraded samples. Now the new technology has taken a big step forward. "

The tiny amounts of DNA found in tusksmade it very difficult to trace the origin of ivory goods. Most of the poaching ivory goes to Asia and is quickly broken into small pieces, mostly for jewelry and knickknacks that can be easily resold. This makes it difficult to trace DNA easily or accurately.

However, the new process could confirm the legal or illegal status of the seized ivory samples, even if DNA is expected to be severely degraded.

In these tests, DNA from aged ivorywere tested for reproducibility, specificity and, importantly, sensitivity. Blind testing of 304 samples resulted in 100% identification accuracy. This also resulted in the correct assignment of legal status to 227 severely degraded, aged ivory in the study cohort, highlighting the high sensitivity of the process.

“The result of these successful tests will haveinternational implications for illegal trafficking in ivory and poaching in general, ”concludes the author of the study. "The new DNA testing technique will be useful for analyzing ivory samples in wildlife forensic laboratories and ultimately help identify hotspots where poaching is rampant."

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