DNA Sequencing Saves Endangered Species

NEWS_2.26.16_Myanmar_Fig1.jpg DNA profiling, a technique where investigators compare the base pair order of DNA found at the crime scene to a suspect’s DNA. Now, another type of genetic analysis – DNA barcoding – is being used to combat illegal wildlife trading.

Illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be right behind drugs and weapons in terms of size and profits, with experts estimating a yearly wildlife black market of $70 billion. Wildlife is sold as exotic pets, trophies and souvenirs, luxury items, religious items, and alternative medicines. High profits and low risks attract transnational criminal syndicates to this business. Because illegal wildlife trading funds and strengthens these criminal networks (networks that are also involved in human, drug, and weapon trafficking) it is considered a threat to global and national security. Wildlife trafficking can also have a long term negative effect on local communities. Finally, there is the very real environmental impact.

Animals and plants that are illegally traded are put under enormous stress. Sadly, endangered species are often targeted because their rarity increases their market value. The decrease/disappearance of these species can affect the health of the entire ecosystem. Accessing these animals provide an additional layer of ecological damage. In 2010, 179 nations came together to form the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to combat illegal wildlife trade.

A major challenge in enforcing CITES and other wildlife trade laws is that poachers will often disguise their product. For example bones, horns, and medical plants are often ground into powders before transport. This is where DNA barcoding proves a valuable tool. DNA barcoding uses a combination of genetic, taxonomic, and computational analysis to rapidly identify the species of a confiscated sample. Briefly, DNA is extracted from the confiscated sample and then sequenced at one or more pre-established genetic locations. These sequences are then searched against a database of sequences from voucher specimens. A match between the sample and several voucher specimens allows the sample to be classified down to genus or species.

NEWS_2.26.16_ParrotEggs_Fig2.jpgAn example is the 2003 case against Joao Migel Folgosa. Mr. Folgosa was apprehended at the Recife Internal Airport of Brazil when police discovered him hiding 58 eggs under his shirt. Based on egg morphology – and Mr. Folgosa history as an exotic pet trafficker – officials suspected that the eggs were parrot. However, they were unable to specify the species. Because Brazil has 21 endangered parrot species but 83 species overall only limited charges could be brought against him. The case was further weakened by Mr. Folgosa claim that the eggs were from quails.

NEWS_2.26.16_ThumbTwelve years later Dr. Miyaki and colleagues picked up this cold case. They retrieved tissue samples from the 58 eggs/embryos and isolated DNA from each. Then, using a combination of primers, they amplified and sequenced the DNA at two locations in the mitochondrial genome. Finally, they compared their results to publically available records in BOLD (Barcode of Life Data System) and Genbank. Through this process they were able to positively identify 57 of the eggs. All 57 were parrot eggs. More specifically fifty belonged to Alipiopsitta Xanthops (a IUCN vulnerable species), three belonged to Ara ararauna, and four were either Amazona aestiaval or Amazona ochrocephala.

This research illustrates how DNA barcoding could be used to prosecute criminal traffickers. However, the connected case also emphasizes an obstacle that still need to be overcome, making the DNA technology affordable and available to law enforcement in many countries. Many hope that new developments in nanopore sequencing will enable this. Equally important to the use of DNA barcoding in criminal investigations is developing a robust database. This database must (a) have all possible taxa are represented, (b) be readily accessible and searchable, and (c) be able to withstand the scrutiny of a legal investigation. Two organizations working towards these two goals are the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge and the Barcode of Wildlife Project.

To explore DNA barcoding with your students check out kit #338 – Exploring Plant Diversity with DNA Barcoding.

 

via DNA Sequencing to Save Endangered Species

Turtle Sanctuary in San Diego

San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge has a residential group of approximately 60 protected Eastern Pacific Green Sea Turtles. No one knows how they got here, but it is assumed they were caught many decades ago in Mexico, brought to the bay alive, and escaped from fishing pens, prior to being slaughtered. They settled successfully […]

via Green Sea Turtle Refuge~ —

600 lb. grizzly bear captured in Sechelt, Sunshine Coast —

B.C. Conservation officers captured a 600-pound grizzly bear on the Sunshine Coast Thursday.

via 600 lb. grizzly bear captured in Sechelt, Sunshine Coast —

Tragic end for Hunstanton whale as it dies after getting trapped in rocks

A whale beached in Norfolk is believed to have been part of a pod that stranded and died in the Netherlands.

The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday.

A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day.

MORE: Handyman’s note to military mother will restore your faith in humanity

Handout photo issued by Kathryn Robbins of a dead sperm whale beached in Norfolk. The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 23, 2016. A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day. See PA story ANIMALS Whale. Photo credit should read: Kathryn Robbins/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
The young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in Hustnanton on Friday (Picture: PA)
It is believed the animal became distressed and injured its tail thrashing around in the shallow waters.

There are fears at least two of the other whales could become stranded, he said.

Dr Peter Evans, director of the Seawatch Foundation, said the whales probably swam south looking for food but got disorientated.

‘They feed on squid and what’s probably happened is that squid came in and the whales fed upon them but ran out of food,’ he said.

Handout photo issued by Jonathon Holt of a dead sperm whale beached in Norfolk. The 50ft (14.5m) young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday January 23, 2016. A team from the RNLI, HM Coastguard, Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary and rescue divers tried to help the whale back into deeper water but it died at around 11pm the same day. See PA story ANIMALS Whale. Photo credit should read: Jonathon Holt/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
They may be linked to a pod that was found washed up in the Netherlands (Picture: PA)

‘The further south they got the shallower the water gets and when they got to Norfolk, which is very, very shallow, it’s quite difficult to navigate and they tend to lose their way and actually strand.’

He believes they could have been part of a large pod, some of which beached in the Netherlands and Germany.

‘There have been 12 other sperm whales that stranded and died, six in the Netherlands and six in Germany,’ he added.

‘They were probably all in the same group, quite a big group which are usually adolescent males a few years old.’

The UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, which investigates all UK strandings, will send a team of scientists to perform a post-mortem examination on the whale in Norfolk.
The 50ft young adult male was part of a group of six spotted in the Wash at Hunstanton on Friday.

Source: Tragic end for Hunstanton whale as it dies after getting trapped in rocks

Must watch: Smithsonian zoo’s panda is out making snow angels in the blizzard

Source: Must watch: Smithsonian zoo’s panda is out making snow angels in the blizzard

Cruel animal experiments in Britain

 

This video from India says about itself:

24 September 2015

A street dog was curled up in a ball on the side of the road. He was suffering from severe mange and had completely given up hope. Just watch his transformation after we rescued him and gave him the medical care he desperately needed.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Vets used 9,000 animals in ‘disgusting’ experiments

Thursday 21st January 2016

ANIMAL welfare campaigners yesterday slammed “disgusting” experiments on dogs and other animals at Britain’s oldest veterinary school.

Animal Aid said that ongoing research at the Royal Veterinary Collegeinvolving genetically flawed dogs with the muscle-wasting diseaseDuchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) was in breach of professional ethics.

New figures obtained by the rights group show that the college used more than 9,000 animals for research in 2012, including 38 pigs, 45 horses, donkeys and mules, 76 dogs and around 3,000 genetically modified mice.

“Establishments such as the Royal Veterinary College should be healing animals, not harming them,” said Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler.

The college launched a company RVC Business in August 2014, offering contract animal testing to clients including human drug companies.

“Animal Aid is not alone in regarding the whole enterprise as disgusting and scarcely believable,” said Mr Tyler.

The college stated that it was “wholly committed to animal health and welfare.”

Source: Cruel animal experiments in Britain

DogDaz Zoo: Lynx Family Moment

Snuggle up and stay warm kiddies…!

DogDaz Zoo

Lynx by Isaac Baquero Pérez

Just like a house cat, they look so soft and cuddly – DogDaz

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Most people don’t understand the plight of Earth and all living things. They go about their daily lives without so much as a care about the world around them. But that myopia has led us to the situation we are in today, which is dire. Burying our heads in the sand is no longer an option. We must face reality. Now.

Our natural resources are finite, not endless. We depend on nature to supply us with fresh water, but as the climate warms, we cannot rely on melting snow that never fell. The atmosphere and air we breathe is under constant threat from pollution and other byproducts we humans create in our endless quest for a lifestyle filled with modern conveniences. The delicate balance of biodiversity that holds our ecosystems in check is precipitously hanging on the edge of the cliff, with only a few claws gripping the edge. These are such an overwhelming problems that most people don’t know what to do.

Changing of the world is not easy. We must start by changing our own personal behavior. We must accept the notion we can be happy with fewer material possessions, and success is not gauged by financial wealth but by the quality of the relationships we share with other people, animals and nature. Only then will the Earth’s situation begin to improve.

To facilitate this major shift in paradigm, we need everyone to buy in, including our governments and businesses. As leaders driving our society forward, they will need to be at the forefront of implementing this change, and they need to do so rapidly. We must demonstrate our desire for this change by voting in elections for the people who understand Earth’s problems and are committed to solving them. We must spend our dollars with the companies who make products in an ethical, sustainable manner.

In Namibia, the conservation programs we administer throughCheetah Conservation Fund integrate people’s needs and livelihoods with the needs of the land and the environment in which they live. We believe that by looking at the community as a whole and carefully addressing the needs of all living creatures, we can maintain the delicate balance of biodiversity and conserve the ecosystem for generations to come.

To celebrate Earth Day, I encourage you to engage others around you in discussion about our basic human values and the definition of happiness. I believe you will find that many more people than expected will agree that less is more, and that true happiness is not found in a new car or the latest technological gadget, but in the connections we have to the living creatures whose lives are supported by our planet. Even if they do not agree, you will have challenged their way of thinking and perhaps planted the seed of behavior change that will take root and one day bloom. This is a great way of showing respect for the Earth on April 22, 2015. By banding together on this day with this mission in mind, a small group of thoughtful, committed people can indeed change the world.

From the perspective of Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund — by engaging in these discussions, you will also be helping ensure the cheetah and other endangered species have a place on Earth both today, and in the future.

Happy Earth Day!

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