Govt welcomes funds to fight rhino poaching

By Drum Digital
27 June 2012

Environmental affairs has welcomed the US3 million (about R25m) it received earlier this month from the Global Environment Facility to fight rhino poaching.

The money would be used for, among other things, the "enhancement of forensic-based technologies", including DNA identification of rhino horn, the department said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Advances in... science have made it possible to use DNA analysis for the examination of evidence for a variety of legal issues involving wild animals."

The department would sign a memorandum of understanding with the University of Pretoria to "facilitate collaborations to thwart the ongoing scourge of [rhino] poaching".

This followed the publication earlier this year of new norms and standards for the marking of rhinoceros horn, and the hunting of white rhino for trophy purposes.

Department spokesman Albie Modise said the funding would mainly be used to help improve the capabilities of the university's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, and a "broad suite of measures" to combat rhino poaching.

A rhino DNA database was being established, he said.

South Africa is home to about 22,000 white and black rhino, about 93 percent of the world's rhino population.

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