USAID supports a much anticipated joint Thai-U.S. Government ivory forensic investigation

USAID Wildlife Asia supported a landmark partnership between the Thailand Customs Department, Thailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to undertake forensic analysis of two large ivory seizures connected to transnational organized crime syndicates. Dr. Samuel K. Wasser, renowned zoologist from the University of Washington who developed groundbreaking DNA extraction technology, led the sample collection process and provided training to Thai counterparts over a two-week period in February. The forensic investigations allow DNA from seized tusks to be genetically mapped showing the origins and routes of the ivory trade. So what? The wildlife trade is the fourth-largest type of transnational crime, right after weapons, narcotics, and human trafficking. DNA analysis of ivory provides actionable intelligence delivering information on poaching hotspots and trade routes that can be used to predict and stop elephant poaching events, disrupt trade, and prosecute criminals.