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DNA forensics used to nab rhinoceros poachers

In many criminal cases, DNA is the critical piece of evidence tying a suspect to the scene of a crime. But the approach isn’t just useful for human DNA—scientists are now using it to catch rhinoceros poachers in Africa, The New York Times reports. They’re doing it by comparing the DNA profiles of items confiscated from suspects—like a horn or a smear of blood—to a database that contains DNA profiles for thousands of rhino carcasses identified as the victims of poaching. The database has only existed since 2010, but in that time it has supplied evidence for more than 120 criminal cases, some of which put poachers behind bars for up to 29 years, the scientists report in Current Biology.

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