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Saving Endangered Animals with DNA Tests

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The illegal trade in endangered animals has had a devastating impact on many species. From elephant ivory to tiger skins, the allure of exotic creatures, their rarity and their wildness have attracted poachers for decades – the result? Many species have been left on the brink of extinction. But DNA testing and DNA kits could help in the fight to protect these threatened species.

Testing on the Spot

DNA kits mean DNA testing can be done on the spot. The DNA devices were unveiled at a global convention looking at how the world can protect the planet and biodiversity. Conservation groups are touting the device as a powerful tool in catching poachers. The kits allow testing on suspicious goods on the spot to indicate whether they contain traces of endangered animals and species.

Sample Collection Kits – Important Weapon

The DNA sample collection kits are said to be an important weapon in the fight to protect the planet. Developed by DNA forensic specialists in Britain, the focus of the test kit is to target the Asian market that sells medicine and alternative therapies that use tissues from protected animals. Conservation groups are particularly concerned about bears – testing will reveal whether the goods contain proteins found in these creatures. International trade laws are in place to stop trafficking of endangered animals. However trials have already identified 16 cases of illegal products bound for the Asian market.

Illegal Exporting Thriving

Bears are particularly targeted because of their high market value, but international law protects all species of the animal and the animals cannot be exported or imported except for a few species and then only under tight regulations. The DNA based tests reveal that illegal exporting is still thriving. Bear bile for example is used in Asian medicines and drives a busy black market. Animal welfare charities estimate that a gram of bear bile worth 50p in the bear’s locality of China can fetch £35 in Japan. Bears are kept in captivity in China and DNA testing can help confirm whether they are being used to illegally supply other countries.

Sample Collection Kits help Catch Exporters

DNA testing kits used by Inspectors can take samples that reveal instant results using a test strip that identifies bear proteins. Before the kits were developed, samples had to be sent to labs which made it difficult to for Inspectors to seize and act on the spot. The DNA testing kits are thought to be a powerful tool in reducing the illegal black market that continues to threaten endangered species.

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