Wed, Mar 14, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Hi-tech conservationists fight Indonesia wildlife crime
打擊野生動物走私 印尼運用高科技

This handout picture taken on Oct. 20, 2016 and released by International Animal Rescue Indonesia shows a veterinarian drawing blood from a rescued slow loris.
獸醫為一隻被救援的懶猴抽血。照片由印尼國際動物救援協會發布,攝於二○一六年十月二十日。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

From cutting-edge DNA barcoding to smartphone apps that can identify illegal wildlife sales, conservationists are turning to hi-tech tools in their battle against Indonesia’s animal traffickers.

Spread across more than 17,000 islands, the Southeast Asian nation’s dense tropical rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, from scaly pangolins to the endangered orangutan.

But that enormous array of flora and fauna means Indonesia is also on the frontline of an illicit global trade estimated to be worth as much as US$23 billion a year -- a shadowy operation bringing some species to the brink of extinction.

To tackle the problem, conservationists have begun using a slew of new gadgets to protect the archipelago’s rare and threatened wildlife.

For instance, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which works with Indonesian authorities to halt wildlife crime, uses computer software to map criminal networks and extract data from seized electronic devices.

Conservation group International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR) is examining crime scene evidence with the help of DNA barcoding — a taxonomic method that relies on short genetic sequences to identify species.

Tissue samples from confiscated animals can be cross-referenced with a database of stored genetic codes, helping to unambiguously differentiate between species and subspecies — not all of which may be endangered.

For instance, IAR is building a barcode database for different species of slow loris, a cute but venomous primate being hunted to extinction for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

“If we have animals with a known origin and we have animals that appear, for example, in Jakarta, we can then compare the genetic samples,” Christine Rattel, IAR programme advisor, told AFP.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. wildlife n.

野生動物 (ye3 sheng1 dong4 wu4)

2. biodiversity n.

生物多樣性 (sheng1 wu4 duo1 yang4 xing4)

3. species n.

物種 (wu4 zhong3)

4. extinction n.

滅絕 (mie4 jue2)

5. subspecies n.

亞物種 (ya3 wu4 zhong3)


“We can then track down the hunting hotspots and what the trading routes are.”

(AFP)

由尖端的DNA條碼到能辨認出非法野生動物買賣的智慧手機應用程式,保育人士正轉而使用高科技工具來打擊印尼的動物走私販子。

印尼的領土廣及一萬七千多個島嶼,從長滿鱗片的穿山甲到瀕臨絕種的猩猩,在這東南亞國家茂密的熱帶雨林中,有著世界上最高度的生物多樣性。

然而,豐富的動植物資源意味著印尼也處於全球動植物非法交易的前線,據估計,每年的非法交易金額高達兩百三十億美元──這些地下買賣,已使一些物種瀕臨滅絕。

為了解決這個問題,保育人士已經開始使用一些新的設備來保護這些島上稀有的、飽受威脅的野生動物。

例如,與印尼當局合作制止野生動物犯罪的野生動物保護協會,便使用電腦軟體來繪製犯罪網路,並從被查封的電子設備中取得資料。

印尼國際動物救援協會則正運用DNA條碼,也就是一種靠基因短序列鑑別物種的分類法,來檢驗犯罪現場證據。

被查扣動物的組織樣本可與儲存遺傳基因碼的資料庫進行交叉比對,有助於明確區分物種和亞物種──這些物種並非都是瀕危動物。

例如,印尼國際動物救援協會正為不同種類的懶猴建立一個DNA條碼資料庫。懶猴是一種長相可愛,但會分泌毒素的靈長類動物,因傳統中藥用途而被大量捕殺,目前已瀕臨絕種。

印尼國際動物救援協會計畫顧問克莉絲汀‧拉圖告訴法新社記者說:「舉例來說,如果我們有已知道來源的動物,然後又有類似的動物出現在雅加達,那我們就可以比較這些基因樣本。」

這樣一來,「我們就可以追蹤狩獵熱點和交易路線。」

(台北時報林俐凱編譯)

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