Wildlife Forensics


9th to 12th grade

Engage and Assess

Participants begin by working with a partner on a gridding activity to assess and build communication skills, followed by a small group problem-solving activity. Staff engage participants by setting the stage for wildlife-related issues in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and sharing what wildlife forensic scientists do to help.


  • Making observations
  • Communicating information
  • Working on a team
  • Constructing explanations using data

Science Concepts / Standards

  • HS-LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
    • Humans depend on the living world…but human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change…[S]ustaining biodiversity…is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth.
    • Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.


  • 60-minute program; a portion will take place outside
  • Maximum group of 32 students

Participants will work in groups of no more than four.  Wildlife forensics is the application of scientific study to crimes against animals. Program participants work in small teams to investigate a replicated wildlife crime site in the DRC. They use scientific processes to identify the animal species involved and develop a hypothesis for the ultimate cause of death. Participants communicate their evidence-based findings to the large group and reflect on the overall process.

Celebrating and Saving Wildlife

While human activity can have negative effects on wildlife, choices can be made that collectively benefit oneself, people, animals and the environment. The Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in the DRC receives support from the Detroit Zoological Society to provide care for rescued Grauer’s gorillas and works alongside local communities to ensure gorilla’s survival in the wild.

Take Action

Plastic pollution harms wildlife worldwide. Make a pledge to limit your use of one type of plastic in your life; for example, plastic straws.

Coltan, a metallic ore, is an essential component of smart phones and other electronic devices, such as laptops and game consoles. The mining of coltan destroys the habitat of endangered gorillas and other wildlife living in Africa. Upgrade electronics only when necessary and recycle your old devices so coltan can be reused, resulting in less demand for mining.

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