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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 9:263-270 (2008)  -  DOI:

Development of a field test for the detection of illegal bear products

Lindsay Peppin1,*, Ross McEwing2, Simon Webster3, Adrian Rogers4, Denise Nicholls4, Rob Ogden2

1Molecular Ecology and Fisheries Genetics Laboratory, School of Biological Sciences, Environment Centre Wales, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
2Wildlife DNA Services, Tepnel RPS, Appleton Place, Appleton Parkway, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 7EZ, UK
3School of Biological Sciences, Brambell Building, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
4Tepnel Research Products and Services, 1 Newtech Square, Deeside Industrial Park, Deeside, Flintshire CH5 2NT, UK

ABSTRACT: International trade in parts and derivatives is a recognised threat to the long term survival of the Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus and is therefore prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). However, significant levels of illegal trade continue to be reported. Attempts to prevent illegal trade in bear parts are hampered by difficulties associated with the accurate identification of such items. In response, we have developed a qualitative lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) dipstick for bear serum albumin detection. The visual detection limit was 10 ppm of bear serum with a reaction time of 5 min. The LFIA was validated on serum, blood, skin and liquid bile, and was able to detect bear albumin in all these sample types. Items confiscated during enforcement activities were also tested and the results confirmed by DNA sequence analysis. The LFIA accurately identified genuine bear bile crystals and bear bile capsules, although it was unable to consistently identify bear bone and some of the more complex traditional Asian medicines (TAM). The test can be performed by persons with little or no scientific training and may provide a novel method for customs and law enforcement officials to screen purported bear bile samples and gallbladders.

KEY WORDS: Ursus thibetanus · Illegal trade · Bile · Field test · Lateral flow immunoassay · LFIA

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Cite this article as: Peppin L, McEwing R, Webster S, Rogers A, Nicholls D, Ogden R (2008) Development of a field test for the detection of illegal bear products. Endang Species Res 9:263-270.

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