Molecular identification of victim species and its sex from the ash: a case of burning alive leopard (Panthera pardus)
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In a case of negative human-leopard (Panthera pardus) interaction, an animal was burnt alive in South Rajasthan, India. We identified the species and sex of the victim animal from the ash using forensic DNA analysis. We recovered three objects (half burnt clot, stone, and shrub twig) from the ash having suspected blood stains. We extracted DNA from these items and amplified a partial fragment of mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b and 12S RNA genes. The sequence generated from these amplicons suggested that the victim animal was a leopard. Furthermore, amplification of a fragment of SRY (224 bp) and ZFX/Y (442 bp) genes indicated that the blood clot was of a male leopard. Although attempts have been made to remove every possible evidence from the crime scene, the species and sex of the victim animal were determined from the challenging and invisible blood stains wrapped in the ash.
KeywordsForensics Human-leopard conflict Forensic DNA analysis Half burnt clot Mitochondrial DNA
This study was funded by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The support provided by the Director, the Dean, and Dr. Y.V. Jhala, Nodal Officer, Forensic Cell, WII, are acknowledged. The authors thank Sh. Anil Rodger, Udaipur News, for providing information regarding the human-wildlife conflict in Rajasthan. The forest departments of the State of Rajasthan acknowledged for sending the ash from the crime scene for forensic investigation.
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