28 February 2013

Nigeria: Nesrea Moves to Protect Wildlife

The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the Consortium for Barcode of Life (CBOL) have entered into collaboration for the introduction of a new technology for wildlife forensics that use DNA Barcoding.

The new DNA barcoding technology and its application was the subject of deliberation between CBOL, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and NESREA at a meeting yesterday in Abuja.

Speaking during the meeting, Director General of NESREA, Dr (Mrs.) Ngeri Benebo said that accurate identification of specimen was a vital element during prosecution of wildlife crimes.

She said, "Identification is key; there is so much use of synthetic material. You could have something made with so much finesse that it looks like ivory even when it might not be ivory. The use of DNA Barcoding in wildlife crime investigation will make our job easier especially during prosecution, such that when we are prosecuting, we can be sure the person actually committed the crime."

The Executive Secretary of CBOL, Dr. David Schindel said DNA barcode was "a short gene sequence taken from standardized portions of the genome, used to identify species".

He said, "When the DNA samples are taken from species, they go through the process of DNA sequencing and are stored in a reference library. When there is need to identify any unknown species, the DNA from the unknown is compared with the data in the library for rapid and proper identification".

Under the DNA barcoding project, CBOL would be in the vanguard of the provision of laboratory facilities for participating countries, one of which is Nigeria. The organization would also provide training and technical assistance, as well as fundraising for equipment and monitoring of progress by partner countries.

Dr. Schindel expressed optimism that by November 2014 participating countries would have begun the use of DNA barcoding libraries in prosecuting wildlife crimes.

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