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Met Forensics Specialist Awarded for Ivory Fingerprinting Kit

Forensics

A Met Forensics Technician has received a national award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). Mark Moseley, 42, was rewarded for his work in developing a unique ivory fingerprinting kit which is being used to combat the illegal trade in ivory.

Until now, it has only been possible to extract and keep fingerprints from ivory for up to two or three days, because of how porous it is. After being challenged by his two daughters to find a way to save elephants, Mark began working with Dr Leon Barron of King’s College, London, to test the viability of various fingerprinting powders and find a solution that would enable fingerprints to be preserved for a longer time period.

Because Mark spends most of his time working at major crime scenes, the majority of his research developing the ivory fingerprinting kit was done during out of office hours. He devoted his weekends and evenings to testing ivory under all conditions, even burying some to examine its water absorption properties.

After two years of dedication and testing, Mark was able to develop a technique that makes it possible to obtain fingerprints from elephant ivory which last for up to 28 days. This extended period gives enforcement officers more time to gather evidence of the ‘middlemen’ who have handled the ivory, whether to weigh, pack or sell it on, as well as those responsible for organising poaching in the first place.

The ivory fingerprinting kits, which are now being funded and supported by IFAW, can be used on the ground to find and catch elephant poachers and traders in Kenya and other ivory crime hotspots. The IFAW Animal Action awards were held at the House of Lords, and hosted by conservationist and TV presenter Bill Oddie.

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said: "Mark’s dedication to developing this groundbreaking ivory kit is a great example of animal welfare in action. We hope that his efforts will inspire others to think outside the box and use their skills to help animals."

Mark said: "I’m very proud to receive this award and want to thank my colleagues in the Metropolitan Police Service’s Forensic Science Imaging Team, the Fingerprint Bureau and the Wildlife Crime Unit who loaned ivory for testing, as well as the United States' Embassy in London and IFAW. "It has been a rewarding experience and I would recommend anyone to use their skills and knowledge in order to help a cause you are passionate about."

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