Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center was the scene of a staged wildlife crime recently. The National Fish & Wildlife Forensic Lab is hosting a group of forensic specialists from Kenya to help develop skills essential to fighting wildlife crimes across the globe.
Participants from Kenya observed local wildlife crime scene technicians process an area where a crime had been committed. Providing a scene as realistic as possible was key to the success of this training. Because of this, items such as a deer carcass, and clues like footprints and spent ammunition are used to link suspect, victim and crime scene with physical evidence. A forensic examination kit, and crime scene tape were staged before guests arrived. By observation and analysis, the visitors from Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) gained valuable skills such as crime scene investigation processing, chain of custody practices and criminal profiling. These skills are invaluable as KWS returns to fight a historic poaching problem centered in the illegal trade of ivory. The staged crime scene at Wildlife Images is just one day of a multi-day training visit to the Forensic Lab by KWS. During the stop at Wildlife Images, the KWS team took a tour and got to meet many of the ambassadors like Argo and Nubs.
Following the visit, much of the crime scene props remain with Wildlife Images to develop educational curriculum about forensic science, wildlife protection programs and global conservation efforts. These items will be added to educational programs like school field trips, Camp EEK, and visits from local organizations.
The utilization of Wildlife Images’ facility is a direct result of a one-of- a-kind partnership between Wildlife Images & the Forensic Lab. A Memorandum of Agreement, established in 2016, recognizes Wildlife Images as the public, education partner to the Lab, which for security reasons, is not open to the general public. The crime scene staging and visit from KWS was the first occasion the two organizations have worked collaboratively on a mutually beneficial project. While this partnership provides no monetary value to either party, its educational reach is vital to the protection of wildlife, not just in southern Oregon, but across the world!