Microdots could help combat poaching

October 14th, 2011 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 14 (IANS) Microdots, originally developed to track stolen cars, will now help track wasps the same way. The method could prove helpful in tracking elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns and combating poaching, say researchers.

The plastic microdots are as tiny as a dot and contain a personalised code which can be read under a magnifier.

Michael Whitehead from the Australian National University’s School of Biology, examining the parasitoid thynnine wasp’s role in orchid pollination, found available tracking methods of no use.

“So my brother and I came up with the idea to test out microdots as a tracking system,” said Whitehead, reports the journal Agricultural and Forest Entomology.

To test the method, the research team captured wasps and attached coded microdots to their backs with liquid paper or nail polish before releasing them, according to a School of Biology statement.

After being recaptured, 84 percent of tagged wasps retained a legible microdot, proving the method to be effective and durable.

“The method also opens the door to a whole range of applications beyond research, ranging from tracing oysters stolen from oyster farms to tracking elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns to combat poaching,” Whitehead said.

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