Identification of confiscated pangolin for conservation purposes through molecular approach

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R. Taufiq P. Nugraha
Gono Semiadi


Over the past decade, the pangolin has emerged as one of the most prominent illegally traded mammals, and high extraction rates of Manis javanica from Indonesia have become a world concern. With the rise of the illegal trade, tools for uncovering the origins of pangolins for law enforcement are needed. Use of genetic markers for species and population identification has become a versatile tool in law enforcement efforts related to illegal wildlife trade and the management of endangered species. This study aims to uncover the origin of confiscated pangolins via a molecular approach using COI mtDNA markers. Forty-eight samples came from confiscated pangolins in Jakarta, Surabaya, Jember, Pangkalan Bun, Medan, Lampung, Riau, and Palembang, as well as four samples from the wild population in Riau, Pangkalan Bun, and East Java. Grouping using phylogenetic trees showed two groups with a bootstrap value of 90% based on wild samples. The first group consists of Sumatra and Kalimantan populations, while the second group consists of a Javan population. From a total of 44 confiscated samples, 12 were identified as Javan, nine from Kalimantan, and 23 from Sumatra. Genetic distance value (d) among individuals was d= 0.012 ± 0.002, with haplotype diversity (Hd) 0.864 ± 0.0444. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) shows a clear genetic difference among populations (75%) and within populations (25%). The results showed that animals confiscated in one location may come from several different populations. These results can be used to track the flow of the pangolin trade in Indonesia, and support conservation management for the release of confiscated animals.

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