July 11, 2019: WCS-India in association with the University of Portsmouth and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) conducted a workshop on 'Forensic Applications in Wildlife Crime Control' for forest officials at Guwahati, Assam. The workshop that focused on tackling wildlife crime using science and forensic methods was inaugurated by Mr. S P Vashisht, IFS, CCF, Assam Forest Department, Mr Agni Mitra, IFS, Regional Deputy Director (ER), WCCB, Dr Uma Ramakrishnan, Associate professor at NCBS, Dr Paul Smith, Principal Lecturer, Director of the Forensic Innovation Centre and Innovation Lead at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS), University of Portsmouth, Ms. Jac Reed, Senior Specialist Forensic Technician at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS), University of Portsmouth and Dr Nicholas Pamment, Principal Lecturer and Associate Head (Students) at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS), University of Portsmouth.
Mr. S P Vashisht, IFS, spoke about rhino conservation and the existing challenges in Assam while Mr Agni Mitra, IFS, addressed the audience on the importance of forensics and how to it could help reduce wildlife trade in India drastically.
Dr Uma Ramakrishnan, Associate Professor at NCBS shared some fascinating insights on how DNA could help decode geographic origin of species, genetic differences and other forensic mysteries. Mr Himanshu Chhatani, Junior Research Fellow at NCBS described how a forensic investigation takes place.
The staff from the University of Portsmouth fascinated the participants by demonstrating the use of Gelatin lifters which is a minimal, practical and cost-effective method to collect crucial evidence that links accused wildlife offenders to wildlife products. Dr Nicholas Pamment introduced the participants to the types of wildlife crimes occurring in the UK and the wildlife crime course at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth. Dr Paul Smith and Ms. Jac Reed spoke about the use of forensic fingerprint techniques in wildlife crime control. They shared their experiences while touching upon the usefulness of gelatin lifters in places like Africa where wildlife crime is relatively high. Ritesh Sirothia, Officer In-charge, State Tiger Strike Force, Madhya Pradesh, addressed the participants on the pangolin trade racket in the country, the general state of wildlife crime and also touched upon other case studies from Madhya Pradesh that showcased some of his inspiring work.
The session ended with a discussion where the participants gave their feedback on the workshop.