Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has participated in taking DNA-samples and inserting electronic microchips in rhino horns at the Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. This is part of the "Save the Rhino's DNA" project, so far this year, 446 rhino have been poached in the country while over 600 were killed last year.
Motlanthe drilled the holes into the horns of two white rhino and a black rhino, before inserting the microchips under the watchful eye of a vet. Motlanthe says technology is a crucial component in the battle against rhino poaching.
"Anything that can help preserve these animals is welcome. But I think the main targets ought to be the syndicates that are behind the poaching, it’s almost like dealing with drug cartels. There is no point in apprehending the small pushers. It’s always helpful to target the main brains behind the operation," says Motlanthe.
Meanwhile, Veterinary doctor Johan Joubert, says they welcome the support of businesses like South African Breweries (SAB) who donated more than a million rand to the project.
He says the DNA data base will help track down poachers.
“If a rhino gets poached and some of the body parts, like the horns get exported to other countries. We can trace it all the way back if we've done a DNA test. Radio transmitters obviously help us to follow the animals around the reserve, especially the black rhino in the dense thicket. We have got quite a big anti-poaching unit, but they need everything to assist them with this rhino poaching because it is such a complicated system to handle,” explains Dr Joubert.