As part of the Sydney Science Festival, UNSW invited a couple of speakers to talk about Wildlife Forensics. Bryan Lessard and Rebecca Johnson held two very different presentations, looking at the topic from different but both very interesting perspectives.
‘Bry the Fly Guy’ talked about the study of insects, such as flies, and their help by solving murder cases. When investigators collect the insects that are in or around the victim, the time of death can be easily found out and thereby help when a suspect has an alibi for a certain time. However, apart from being helpful evidence at crime scenes, flies and especially larva can be very useful in medical procedures. Maggots can be placed on a wound, to eat away the dead flesh and thereby clean the wound. The greatest message Bryan had, was that insects aren’t just disgusting annoying things, but they are in fact very helpful and complex beings.
After this very interesting talk Rebecca Johnson took over the microphone and talked about the difficult work of fighting illegal trade in Wildlife. Illegal trade in Wildlife is a multibillion dollar business and extremely harmful to the world we live in, but as Rebecca explained, it is a very underrated crime and criminals often get away with a slap on the wrist, despite the horrible implications of their crime. However, Rebecca showed on the example of the Koala, how important it is to conserve the nature we are surrounded by. When the first settlers came to Australia, there were millions of Koalas; now there are only about 600 thousand left, with the numbers steadily declining.
It is important to understand, that everybody can protect nature. For example, for many species it would be great help, if tourists wouldn’t buy exotic, animal products when they are on holidays. Or just keeping your eyes open and talking about this subject with people can already be a fantastic help, which was a very important message of her presentation.
The presentations and the Q & A were extremely interesting and definitely made the listeners think. It shows that conversations like this should happen more often.
Monique Pitzer was born and raised in Germany, where she also started working as a freelance journalist and freelance writer. She moved to Australia and started a business as a writer, translator, and tutor.