By Chris Irvine
Microchips will be placed in the horn of every rhinoceros in Kenya in an ambitious bid to tackle the scourge of poaching, wildlife officials have announced.
The World Wildlife Fund donated the chips as well as five scanners at a cost of $15,000 (£9,400). Tracking the rhinos – there are more than 1,000 in Kenya – to dart them and fit the device will cost considerably more.
Officials believe however that it will boost the ability to prosecute poachers or traffickers, allowing for all the horns to be traced, providing potential vital information on poaching and smuggling chains.
The chips will be inserted into the horn, which is made of keratin, the same composition as fingernails.
“Poachers are getting more sophisticated in their approach,” Paul Udoto, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service said
“So it is vital that conservation efforts also follow and embrace the use of more sophisticated technology to counter the killing of wildlife.”
The KWS said in a statement: “Investigators will be able to link any poaching case to a recovered or confiscated horn, and this forms crucial evidence in court, contributing towards the prosecution’s ability to push for sentencing of a suspected rhino criminal.”
Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, with the wildlife trafficking industry thought to be worth around £6.6 billion. More....