New techniques for retrieving fingerprints from ivory to mitigate poaching
King's College London, Phys.org
May 10, 2022
The use of new techniques for retrieving fingerprints from ivory has been
validated for the first time by scientists from King's College London and
University College London in collaboration with imaging and fingerprint
experts from the Metropolitan Police.
The findings could lead to wider use of fingerprinting methods in the field
to more easily identify poachers in regions with high levels of
Ivory has previously been considered difficult to obtain fingerprints from
as it is a highly porous, ridged material. This means fingerprinting has
not been commonly used on ivory, despite being one of the oldest, simplest
and most cost-effective forensic tools.
In recent years, newer powder materials have emerged for fingerprinting,
composed of smaller particles, which allow for more detail to be observed
as they adhere better to smaller amounts of fingermark residue left behind.
The latest study tested three types of powders on three seized elephant
tusks loaned by the Metropolitan Police Service's Wildlife Unit.
The team found that newer reduced-size powders were able to provide
clearer, useable fingerprint detail that is vital for identifying the
donor. The clarity of ridge detail was found to be at its highest within
seven days after the print was deposited, suggesting the method would work
best in regions of the world that are closest to the sources of ivory.
Study author, Dr. Leon Barron, a senior lecturer in forensic science in the
Division of Analytical and Environmental Sciences at King's, said: "Our
study has shown for the first time that these newer powders could
potentially be used for identifying poachers, and are especially suited to
rangers working in the field."