Development of a field test for the detection of illegal bear products

Lindsay Peppin*, Ross McEwing, Simon Webster, Adrian Rogers, Denise Nicholls, Rob Ogden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


International trade in parts and derivatives is a recognised threat to the long term survival of the Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus and is therefore prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). However, significant levels of illegal trade continue to be reported. Attempts to prevent illegal trade in bear parts are hampered by difficulties associated with the accurate identification of such items. In response, we have developed a qualitative lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) dipstick for bear serum albumin detection. The visual detection limit was 10 ppm of bear serum with a reaction time of 5 min. The LFIA was validated on serum, blood, skin and liquid bile, and was able to detect bear albumin in all these sample types. Items confiscated during enforcement activities were also tested and the results confirmed by DNA sequence analysis. The LFIA accurately identified genuine bear bile crystals and bear bile capsules, although it was unable to consistently identify bear bone and some of the more complex traditional Asian medicines (TAM). The test can be performed by persons with little or no scientific training and may provide a novel method for customs and law enforcement officials to screen purported bear bile samples and gallbladders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-270
Number of pages8
JournalEndangered Species Research
Issue number3
Early online date18 Sep 2008
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • Bile
  • Field test
  • Illegal trade
  • Lateral flow immunoassay
  • LFIA
  • Ursus thibetanus


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