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Genetic data optimises conservation of endangered species

Putting endangered species on a firmer footing

Thanks to the collaboration between international conservationists and a team of Cardiff University researchers led by Professor Mike Bruford, the long-term survival of Orang-utans and elephants in Borneo and Giant Pandas in China is more likely than ever before.

By collecting and analysing genetic and demographic data on several ‘flagship’ endangered species, the team have been able to establish a scientific basis for intervention and authoritative guidance which helps accurately conserve populations and their genetic diversity.

As part of a Darwin Initiative project, DNA profiling was carried out for over 200 individual orang-utans, which when combined with demographic information, created a predictive model that suggested some forest fragment populations in the Kinabatangan would be extinct within 50 years without action to reconnect the forest.  The same evidence-based approach was used to build predictive models for elephants in Borneo and pandas in China.

The work has developed methods which can be applied to other species to provide them with a greater chance of long-term survival.

“The work of Professor Mike Bruford and Dr Benoit Goossens has made a lasting and invaluable contribution to conservation policy for endangered species in Sabah, Malaysia.” Dr Laurentius Ambu, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department

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