By Emsie Ferreira
Cape Town - South African National Parks and Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo authorities on Friday received new 4×4 forensic trailers bought with foreign donor funding to be used in the fight against rhino poaching, Environment Minister Edna Molewa said.
The four vehicles are equipped with generators, mobile fridges, scales and eletronic calipers and will be used to collect and store forensic evidence for use against poaching suspects.
The ministry said it was vital to make sure evidence reached court in time and in an admissable state, particularly when the state sought to oppose bail for poachers.
“This type of evidence can assist in among others, placing suspects at poaching crime scenes, identifying weapons used, and linking horns seized with rhino poached,” Molewa said in a statement issued on Friday.
“This newly available equipment will further aid crime scene management in outlying areas where the correct equipment needed for on-scene forensic investigations is not readily available.”
The trailers were purchased with funding from the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP-GEF) Rhino Programme,
The ministry said they were given to the three provinces because of the high volume of poaching they experienced.
Wildlife authorities in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State have already received similar trailers, bought with a donation from the US Department of State.
“The Department of Environmental Affairs has long acknowledged that the fight against rhino poaching cannot be won alone, and in this regard we are grateful for the support of our international partners,” Molewa said.
In 2014, 1 215 rhinos were killed by poachers.