Expediting the sampling, decalcification, and forensic DNA analysis of large elephant ivory seizures to aid investigations and prosecutions

Ewart, Kyle M. and Lightson, Amanda L. and Sitam, Frankie Thomas and Rovie-Ryan, Jeffrine J. and Mather, Niklas and McEwing, Ross Expediting the sampling, decalcification, and forensic DNA analysis of large elephant ivory seizures to aid investigations and prosecutions. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 44 (102187). pp. 1-5. ISSN 1872-4973

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The illegal ivory trade continues to drive elephant poaching. Large ivory seizures in Africa and Asia are still commonplace. Wildlife forensics is recognised as a key enforcement tool to combat this trade. However, the time and resources required to effectively test large ivory seizures is often prohibitive. This limits or delays testing, which may impede investigations and/or prosecutions. Typically, DNA analysis of an ivory seizure involves pairing and sorting the tusks, sampling the tusks, powdering the sample, decalcification, then DNA extraction. Here, we optimize the most time-consuming components of this process: sampling and decalcification. Firstly, using simulations, we demonstrate that tusks do not need to be paired to ensure an adequate number of unique elephants are sampled in a large seizure. Secondly, we determined that directly powdering the ivory using a Dremel drill with a high-speed cutter bit, instead of cutting the ivory with a circular saw and subsequently powdering the sample in liquid nitrogen with a freezer mill, produces comparable results. Finally, we optimized a rapid 2 -h decalcification protocol that produces comparable results to a standard 3-day protocol. We tested/ optimised the protocols on 33 raw and worked ivory samples, and demonstrated their utility on a case study, successfully identifying 94% of samples taken from 123 tusks. Using these new rapid protocols, the entire sampling and DNA extraction process takes less than one day and requires less-expensive equipment. We expect that the implementation of these rapid protocols will promote more consistent and timely testing of ivory seizures suitable for enforcement action.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Decalcification Ivory Sampling Wildlife forensics, UNIMAS, University, Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, IPTA, education, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Faculty of Resource Science and Technology
Depositing User: Sanawi
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2021 06:06
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2021 06:06
URI: http://ir.unimas.my/id/eprint/35966

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