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DNA Test - Catching China’s Sheep Rustlers


Beijing may be home to this Summer’s Olympic Games but, according to the country’s farmers, it is also home to some unscrupulous sheep rustlers. A DNA test may put paid to the theft of the herdsmen’s livestock. The problem of cattle rustling was commonplace in the days of cowboys but it is less prevalent in the 21st century. This isn’t the case in a remote part of North China, however, and one local herdsman resorting to a DNA test to prove ownership of sheep he believed had been stolen from his land.

DNA Test - A Multitude of Uses

In the modern world, there are many uses for the DNA test and its application can range from discovering paternity to, in this case, establishing the ownership of livestock. A report by the news agency, Reuters, finds that the strange case was indeed remedied by resorting to a DNA test on the animals in question. The case of the stolen livestock proved to cause quite a commotion as the herdsman in question, Alaha, became the first person in Chinese history to use a DNA test to prove his ownership of an animal.

DNA Test - Quick and Accurate

The accuracy of a DNA test is nigh on absolute. In most cases, a DNA test can prove parentage with 99.9% accuracy and can rule out a relationship with 100% accuracy. This level of accuracy would prove to be key in the case of the stolen cattle. According to the report in Reuters, it was in March last year that Alaha noticed that 46 of his pregnant ewes were missing. A rival farmer, Daoriji, initially admitted that some of the livestock on his land were Alaha’s but then demanded that he provide proof that they were his. This led to Alaha contacting a lawyer who suggested that he ask for a DNA test to be carried out on the pregnant ewes. Speaking to Reuters, Wang Xiaobin, the lead scientist in charge of the DNA test stated, "The DNA test showed that the 36 ewes were the mothers of the 36 lambs, and the 26 stud rams were the fathers of 34 out of the 36 lambs. This was the first time DNA technology has been used to identify the progeny of sheep".

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