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.

Photo: AFP

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.


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.”













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