Reviewed by Rebecca Bell
Environmental Education Specialist
Wild animals are legally and illegally captured as part of the pet trade or killed for bush meat and body parts. Using Forensics: Wildlife Crime Scene! capitalizes on student interest in both forensics and wildlife issues as they investigate wildlife crimes.
The book provides an introduction to wildlife crime. Students learn about international laws that govern wildlife and wildlife trade and examine the impacts that humans make on various animal populations. The book's second section trains students in forensic techniques, including distinguishing between antlers and horns, fingerprinting, DNA fingerprinting, mammal identification using skulls and hair, blood-typing, and interpretation of trace fossils and tracks. Through these activities, students learn science content identified as part of the National Science Education Standards related to anatomy, taxonomy, food webs, biodiversity, DNA, and genetics.
The book's third section, "Investigating and Solving a Wildlife Crime," allows students to apply their newly learned forensic techniques as they investigate a potential wildlife crime, determine whether or not a crime has been committed, choose appropriate analysis techniques, and draw conclusions about who-dun-it. After the forensic work is finished, students interview a cast of characters who add eyewitness accounts to the data. Suspects plead their innocence. Teams work together to pool forensic data and press charges. In a dramatic courtroom scene, students present their case to the Prosecuting Attorney.
Using Forensics is perfect for middle school and high school students, especially in biology, environmental science, and forensic courses. It provides students with an engaging context for learning about law and government as well as science and wildlife issues. Plus, it may make students think twice before they buy that exotic animal in the local pet shop.
Review posted on 12/6/2007