Wildlife staff trained in rhino horn DNA sampling

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pretoria – Wildlife staff have received training in rhino horn DNA sampling in a bid to curb rhino poaching.

The two-day International Rhinoceros DNA Sampling Training Workshop, which began in Limpopo on Monday, trained wildlife experts from around the country to collect samples from animals that have been poached.

The training workshop was hosted by Department of Environmental Affairs and the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, in collaboration with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

Law enforcement officers from each of the 11 African rhinoceros range states, as well as from China, Thailand, Vietnam and South African National Parks, participated in the workshop.

Special focus was given to the increased use of rhinoceros horn DNA sampling to combat wildlife crime. This includes specific investigative techniques and the increased use of wildlife forensics, which can be applied during follow up actions that should be taken when seizures are made, crime scenes are investigated, information is being gathered or evidence is being presented to court.

The officials have also been provided with focused training on the identification of rhinoceros horn, rhinoceros horn DNA sampling and wildlife crime scene investigation.  

Participants have also been educated in the utilisation of ICCWC tools and services to enhance their wildlife crime investigation capabilities.

Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Fundisile Mketeni, said that South Africa welcomes the hosting of workshop, since the country is most seriously affected by rhino poaching that is largely driven by international wildlife trafficking.

“The presentation of this workshop supports the decision by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at the 16th Conference of Parties in Thailand in March 2013 that all range States, transit and consumer States should strengthen compliance and enforcement,” said Mketeni. – SAnews.gov.za

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