Wildlife CSI: Genomic monitoring as a tool to study the illegal wildlife trade

Stefan Prost
LOEWE-Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics
Senckenberg Nature Research Society
Frankfurt, Germany

Image by Paul Hilton

January 8, 2020
Pacific Forum—11:00 a.m.

Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) was characterized as the fourth most profitable illegal industry in the world in 2008, worth up to $21 billion dollars annually. However, now, more than 10 years later, illegal fishing alone has an annual worth up to $23 billion. Alarmingly, wildlife trade—legal and illegal—represents one of the most prominent drivers for vertebrate extinction risk world-wide, surpassing climate change. Furthermore, a recent investigation showed that about 18 percent of all extant terrestrial vertebrates are being traded today. Effective monitoring strategies are required to better understand and subsequently counteract IWT. In this seminar, Stefan Prost will outline IWT and advances in genomic monitoring that show great promise to improve current monitoring efforts, with a special focus on the application of inexpensive and mobile technologies, which can be used to build up local capacity in areas with high biodiversity loss due to IWT.

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