Site update

Since I have been really terrible at updating the blog (but pretty good at keeping up with the facebook blog posts) I've added the widget below so that facebook cross posts to the blog.

You shouldn't need to join facebook but can just click on the links in the widget to access the articles. If you have any problems or comments please mail me at arandjel 'AT'

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rhino DNA kits added to South Africa's Arsenal

From Rhino

South Africa’s embattled rhinos now have a new weapon on their side: 1,000 DNA kits have been provided to South African National Parks (SANParks) by the faculty of Veterinary Services of the University of Pretoria.

The kits are expected yield a higher conviction rate for rhino crimes, according to Dr. Cindy Harper, Head of Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

"The ability to obtain a full DNA profile from rhino horn allows us to match recovered horns to specific poaching incidents."

SANParks CEO, Dr David Mabunda, noted that DNA profiling would allow prosecutors to be tougher on rhino crimes.

"This will certainly go a long way in changing the trend of suspects found in possession of rhino horn only being charged with possession as the horns will be linked to a carcass lying somewhere in a national park or game reserve."

Read the entire release at SANParks receives kits to fight rhino poaching .

DNA analysis at work
Indeed, it was DNA evidence that led to at least three successful convictions over the past 13 months.

For example, in June 2010, a Vietnamese rhino horn smuggler was sentenced to 10 years in prison after the rhino horns in his possession were found to be a DNA match to rhinos that were killed a few days earlier.

So far this year, DNA analysis has been instrumental in two cases which put a total of four rhino killers in jail.

In April 2011, DNA evidence helped put two killers behind bars for a combined total of 19 years.

Earlier this month, DNA analysis of the rhino and horns helped secure the convictions of two Mozambican nationals, who were sentenced to a combined total of 16 years in prison.

Killing continues
SANParks announced that the year’s rhino death toll had already reached 173 as of June 6th.

Since that time, a female rhino was killed on a private game farm in Hoedspruit. The assailants also shot and wounded her four-month-old calf.

However, the number could be as high as 186, according to sources outside the media.

No comments: