Wildlife Forensics

At the Australian Museum we are able to use DNA-based Wildlife Forensics to identify an unknown sample to the animal species it came from.

What is DNA-based Wildlife Forensics?

DNA-based wildlife forensics is where we extract DNA from an unknown sample and try to match it to a known sample from our reference collection.

Why is it useful?

This technique is particularly useful when animal tissue is unidentifiable to species because:

  • It has been treated (i.e. tanned to make leather)
  • It has been mutilated (i.e. only blood etc remains)
  • It has been filleted (i.e. commercially available meat)
  • When an animal is not well-developed enough to identify to species and there is no possibility for it will develop into an adult with identifiable characters

Wildlife trafficking is a crime in Australia and there is both state and federal legislation to protect animals against this and to deter offenders:

  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild fauna and flora (CITES)
  • Customs Act (Cth 1901)
  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (Cth 1999)
  • Fisheries Management Act (NSW 1994)
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (NSW 1979)
  • Quarantine Act (Cth 1908)


Dr Rebecca Johnson , Acting Head, Science Services & Infrastructure
Last Updated:

Tags wildlife forensics, wild life forensics, DNA, wild-life forensics, animal genetics, birdstrike, bird strike, conservation genetics, wildlife crime, australian centre for wildlife genomics,