DNA enters the fight against illegal hunting of primates

A DNA method able of identifying exact species of primate ‘bushmeat’ that has been cooked for sale has been developed in a bid to cut illegal trading and better identify and protect those species most at risk.

In 2010 it was shown that each year 270 tonnes of illegal bushmeat reaches Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport alone. The lack of a reliable diagnostic tool has hampered previous efforts to examine threat from illegal hunting.

By collecting tissue samples from the cooked meat, the team were for the first time able to identify the exact primate traded. DNA was extracted from the meat samples, and sequencing of species-specific DNA was then carried out.

Dr Maria Ferreira da Silva, a co-author of this research, said that the study “revealed that six out of the ten primate species in Guinea Bissau are traded for bushmeat consumption.”

The researchers hope that the tool can now be used by government agencies worldwide.

Read more at Cardiff University