Application Essays

Conservation Genetics Resources

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 189-193

First online:

Wildlife forensic DNA and lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) poaching

  • A. SanchesAffiliated withLaboratório de Biologia da Conservação, Departamento de Ecologia, UNESP, CP199, CEP 13506-900 Email author 
  • , W. A. M. PerezAffiliated withInstituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA), CEP 78640-000
  • , M. G. FigueiredoAffiliated withDepartamento de Genética e Evolução, UFSCar, CP 676, CEP 13565-905
  • , B. C. RossiniAffiliated withDepartamento de Genética e Evolução, UFSCar, CP 676, CEP 13565-905
  • , M. CerviniAffiliated withDepartamento de Genética e Evolução, UFSCar, CP 676, CEP 13565-905
  • , P. M. GalettiJr.Affiliated withDepartamento de Genética e Evolução, UFSCar, CP 676, CEP 13565-905
  • , M. GalettiAffiliated withLaboratório de Biologia da Conservação, Departamento de Ecologia, UNESP, CP199, CEP 13506-900

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Abstract

DNA molecular analyses were used in a forensic investigation involving illegal wildlife poaching in central Brazil. The Brazilian environmental agency (IBAMA) sent us two samples of confiscated meat from illegal poaching for species and individual identification. Comparative analysis of cytochrome b sequences (1,070 bp) provided incontestable evidence that the meat samples were from the lowland tapir, Tapirus terrestris. The analysis of nine microsatellites indicated that the two seized meat samples shared the same genotypes, implying that meat from only one individual was present. The lowland tapir is the last representative of mega-mammals in South America and is a vulnerable species, locally extinct in several regions. The present paper reports a successful genetic investigation of an illegal hunting crime, in which DNA-based molecular analyses of seized ground meat samples were the only tool able to identify the species and individual, proving to be highly useful for wildlife crime investigations.

Keywords

Forensic genetics Species identification Hunting Cytochrome b Microsatellite