- Among the diverse species of guitarfish, Rhinobatos horkelii is endemic to the south-west Atlantic and is primarily found off the Brazilian coast. The IUCN has classified this species as being in critical danger of extinction owing to widespread exploitation.
- Currently, this species is protected under Brazilian conservation laws. However, the morphological similarity of R. horkelii to other species precludes effective protection from fishing.
- Guitarfish samples were obtained from fishermen in different regions along the Brazilian coast and were identified using a genetic forensic method (multiplex-PCR). The analysis showed that 56% of the samples analysed were from R. horkelii, 25% from Rhinobatos percellens and 19% from Zapteryx brevirostris confirming that R. horkelii continues to be caught, despite conservation legislation.
- These results stress the need for effective conservation measures and may help to alert others to the occurrence of R. horkelii poaching. In addition, this work aims to establish an effective method of species identification to help prevent poaching of protected species such as R. horkelii.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.