CEO of SANParks, Dr David Mabunda, announced in Pretoria that a new rhino DNA kit was to be used by officers on rhino poaching crime scenes as well as to document the individual rhinos in SA.
The DNA kit has been developed as part of a collaboration between the Department of Genetics at Onderstepoort (University of Pretoria), SANParks, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations.
The kit will enable investigators to link a crime scene with a particular rhino and the subsequent movements of the animal. Mabunda encouraged all owners and managers of properties with rhino to make use of the kit as the information gathered would be stored in a central database that can only be accessed by registered professionals who can be linked directly to all data downloaded through their individual logon connection.
Mabunda said the DNA kit and the initial testing and registration would be free for all participants (private and public) and also in the unfortunate case of a rhino poaching incident. The estimated cost of a full circle DNA sampling is R1 680 per individual.
To date South Africa has lost 19 rhino since the beginning of the year and there have been 24 arrests. The focus this year would be the arrest of the people behind the rhino poaching syndicates as well as educating the public against supporting such criminals, said Mabunda.