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Sequencing for Combat Wildlife Crimes

Investigators are increasingly using DNA sequencing and other forensic tools to combat wildlife crimes, BBC Future reports.

One hurdle investigators must clear is the identification of the species involved and from where it originated, as some species are protected and others are not and some are protected in certain areas, but not in other locales. For instance, the University of Zurich's Nadja Morf tells BBC Future that if officials confiscate bushmeat at the airport, they'll need to know its species or genus to determine what they need to do.

However, BBC Future notes that the databases used by wildlife forensic investigators can be incomplete or harbor inaccurate entries. Genbank, it notes, is a large open-access database that they often turn to, but because it is open access, its entries are not always reliable. Other databases, though, with more reliable entries are not as complete, it adds.

Still, BBC Future says investigators have been able to animal DNA successfully, such as in a case involving the theft of kestrel chicks.