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 , Head, Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics