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Australian Wildlife Forensic Services

The Australian Wildlife Forensic Services (AWFS) is a not-for-profit investigative service facilitated by the Trace and Environmental DNA Laboratory (TrEnD) at Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. The AWFS provides DNA technology services across the country with the aim of reducing the illegal trade and poaching of wildlife. All fees charged for sample processing, analyses and report writing contribute towards a variety of post-graduate research programs, consumables and staff costs.

Wildlife forensics encompasses a variety of disciplines such as chemistry, molecular biology, anthropology, entomology, morphology, serology, and toxocology. The AWFS specialises in two disciplines - molecular biology (DNA profiling and sequencing) and morphology (animal hair identification). There are a growing range of modern DNA approaches that can be used in wildlife crime investigations. When these are used appropriately they can be highly discriminatory. Our laboratories are equipped and routinely isolate and amplify DNA from a variety of biological substrates including bone, ivory, eggs, Traditional Asian medicines, processed food, feathers, gastrointestinal contents and faeces. Basic concepts of DNA profiling, DNA species Identification, and morphological identification of animal hairs can be found here (Background info)

Nicole on the 7-30 report

Does DNA testing of this canned meat reveal minke whale?

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Forensics requires full and complete paperwork (chain of custody) to be able to use them in a legal setting - use the tabs above to navigate to information on  case submission forms and a description of our lab facilities.  Services and Costs showcases the types of services our staff can offer. One important feature of this site is that it will provide you with information about how to sample biologicals for wildlife forensics - these are available for viewing and download in our forms and protocols section.


Please contact us if you require any further infomation on the use of DNA in (non human) wildlife testing.

December 2013: The AWFS lab was the first to use new DNA sequencing technologies to uncover the plants and animals contained in the gastrointestinal tract from bird collisions with aircraft. You can download a PDF of the Investigative Genetics article by clicking on the following link:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874626/

April 2012: The AWFS lab was the first to use new DNA sequencing technologies to uncover the plants and animals within Traditional Chinese Medicines. You can download a PDF of the PLoS Genetics article by clicking on the following link:http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1002657#pgen-1002657-g002

NOVEMBER 2010: Our research activities were recently featured on the 7-30 report where Nicole White discusses some of our recent casework on Cockatoos and Quokkas. To view this clip navigate to this page or download it as an m4v file here.

eggs concealed in tshirt

SEPTEMBER 2009: The AWFS assited Australian Customs and Boarder Protection with the identification of illegally smuggled birds eggs intercepted at Perth Airport. Click on the link to view the media article:http://www.cawtglobal.org/home/2009/9/9/customs-and-border-protection-cracks-egg-smuggling-attempt.html and the following link to the article of the DNA identifications published in Forensic Science International: Genetics:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1872497311001323

We are a fully accredited Quarantine (AQIS) and PC1 laboratory.  Please note that this is a service that is currently only offered to Australian customers - the logistics involved in importing biological material into Australia currently excludes us from conducting testing for overseas labs.

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