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Strengthening wildlife law enforcement

Published: 7 Jun 2017 00:01

International symposium on wildlife forensic science.

The importance of forensic science in detecting and tackling wildlife crime will be discussed when representatives from more than 30 countries attend an event in Edinburgh today.

The Society for Wildlife Forensic Science’s symposium, which is being held outside the USA for the first time, will focus on how scientists can best support wildlife crime investigations – from illegal timber logging and fisheries, to illegal wildlife trade and persecution on both national and international levels.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who is speaking at the conference, will also confirm a new partnership between the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish Government to set up a Wildlife Forensics Development Programme, which will provide a platform for international research and training

This partnership will create formal ties between the Scottish Government’s Wildlife DNA Forensics unit and the university’s research unit at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary studies and the Roslin Institute.

Ms Cunningham said:

“As hosts to the UK’s only dedicated wildlife DNA forensics lab, Scotland is leading the way when it comes to using forensic science to shape wildlife law enforcement. Forensics can provide evidence that an offence has been committed and plays an important role investigating trade routes and poaching.

“The new wildlife forensics development programme builds on Edinburgh’s strong reputation for biosciences, taking a progressive approach that will strengthen the links between enforcement, policy and forensics.”

Dr Rob Ogden, President of the Society for Wildlife Forensic Science, explained:

“The fight against wildlife crime in all its forms requires coordinated efforts from multiple partners to reduce incentives and demand, and to investigate and prosecute criminal activity. Forensic science has revolutionised criminal investigations and is now being employed to help protect some of the worlds most threatened species from persecution and illegal trade.

“The aim of the symposium is to help integrate modern forensic science with the global wildlife enforcement community.”

Background

Information on the International Wildlife Forensic Symposium.

The Scottish Government’s Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) department hosts the wildlife DNA forensics unit.

Photographs from Ms Cunningham’s recent visit to the Scottish Rural University and College wildlife crime labs.