determination of the age of material of animal origin
In many cases it is necessary to know the age of a product or trophy in order to distinguish between legal and illegal products. This part of the ForWild project focuses on radiocarbon, i.e. 14C analyses of so-called chronological tissues of protected species (teeth, claws, beaks, gills) and the use of analyses of other radionuclides (e.g. 236U/238U or 129I/127I ratios). The unique Milea accelerator mass spectrometer from the Swiss company Ionplus is used to measure these isotopes.
The research carried out by the group from the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the CAS focuses mainly on large carnivores (bear, wolf, lynx) and grouse, which are the most problematic species in terms of illegal hunting in the Czech Republic and the EU. Many trophies in the Czech Republic come from freshly hunted animals and are falsely declared as decades old. Age verification helps to detect such cases.
The team is also analysing other continuously growing tissues, such as ivory or scales from pangolins. Incremental lineages are being studied in detail on these samples, which could help to refine the dating of these tissues.