How the DNA method that caught the Golden State Killer can help catch elephant poachers
The technique has identified links among criminal syndicates, helping prosecute wildlife traffickers.
Acting on a tip in July 2019, Singapore authorities singled out a shipment of three containers of timber en route from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Vietnam. Hidden among the wood, almost nine tons of chopped-up elephant tusks were packed in 132 heavy-duty plastic bags—the ivory of an estimated 300 African elephants. Inspectors also found nearly 12 tons of pangolin scales.
They immediately notified the port of origin as well as Interpol and Singapore’s National Parks Boards (NParks), responsible for administering the international treaty that governs cross-border wildlife trade. And then NParks dialed a professor in Seattle.
Samuel Wasser directs the Center for Environmental Forensic Science at the University of Washington, where in the early 2000s