Lion Conservation Through Genetics

Lion Conservation Through Genetics

Peter Lindsey
Grantee Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust
Type Tackling Illegal Wildlife Trade
Location Zimbabwe
Grant Amount $10,200
Duration 14 months

In early 2022, LRF issued a grant to Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust to help them develop lion DNA profiling system. This system, based on a panel of SNP DNA markers, is in development with the African Wildlife Forensics Network and should be ready soon. It is designed to support population management and effective monitoring of the legal and illegal trade of lions throughout the KAZA transfrontier conservation area. DNA profiling can be used to match confiscated lion parts to individuals in a population. The same data will also be used to complement the recently developed lion localizer traceability system, providing enhanced resolution for the geographic traceability of confiscated lion parts in the KAZA region. The SNP markers can also be used to detect specific lion-specific DNA within mixed samples or processed items, such as traditional medicines, food, or wood and this makes them useful in wildlife forensics/combating illegal trade of lion products. Lastly, DNA profiling can be applied to parentage analysis to further inform conservation management.