N. Wales Firm in War on Wildlife Trade

Article excerpt

Byline: STEVE BAGNALL

A NORTH Wales company is to play a vital role in the global battle against the illegal wildlife trade.

A compact field-based test kit is being devised by Bangorbased Wildlife DNA Services which will make the illegal trade easier to police.

The company has been awarded a pounds 7, 500 Welsh Development Agency Smart Cymru programme grant to research the idea.

The illegal trafficking of animals is estimated to be second only to the narcotics trade in international market size. The trade includes the capture and sale of live animals such as snakes, tortoises, exotic birds and lizards.

Smugglers also trade in rare plants, while poachers kill wildlife such as lions, elephants and rhinos -- selling the skins, tusks and meat on the black market as food, traditional medicine and clothing.

America has also seen a growing trend in exotic pets, with tigers, monkeys and alligators found in city centre high rise apartments.

Wildlife DNA Services project manager Dr Rob Ogden said: ``At present, the illegal trade of wildlife is difficult to police and any piece of equipment that would assist in alleviating this problem would be welcomed by Customs and Excise, animal protection agencies and other related government organisations.

``Existing test methods are slow, expensive, time consuming and often impractical within the given environments. …