Synopsis

Wildlife specialists now have new tool to combat the illegal hunting and trading of bushmeat, or wild game: genetic barcodes. A barcode is a short section of DNA that is unique to a species. Decoding this sequence enables a fast species ID of an individual animal when it’s not possible to identify the species by sight alone. Conservation ecologist Mitchell Eaton recently worked with scientists at AMNH’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics to sequence barcodes for several species of animals commonly traded as bushmeat in Africa and South America. The barcodes are now available to officials to pinpoint the species of origin—many of them threatened—of confiscated meat or leather goods.