Kenya’s black Rhinos get microchips



Posted on 18 February 2014  | 
Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis); Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Adult male black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis); Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-CanonEnlarge
The much-anticipated implementation of Kenya’s Rhino Microchip Programme recently commenced in the Masai Mara Game Reserve and the Lake Nakuru National Park. The implantation of microchips runs concurrently with the ear notching of unmarked or younger rhinos and is being implemented by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) with the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) together with County Governments such as Narok.

The deployment of microchips and notching of rhino ears combined with forensic DNA technology will allow for 100% traceability of every live animal within Kenya and all rhino horns in the stockpiles. This will serve to strengthen rhino monitoring, anti-poaching activities and also support anti-trafficking mechanisms nationally.
Kenya is at the forefront of embracing the use of more sophisticated technology to counter illegal wildlife trade and stop the loss of flagship species such as rhinos and elephants.

During the launch of this microchipping exercise, Dr. Lekolool of KWS said, “the forensic DNA technology will greatly improve the ability of prosecutors to bring to court a case of not only possession of a wildlife trophy, but will also be used to trace back the horn to a poaching incident; thus providing greater evidence hence more punitive penalties.” Mohammed Awer, WWF Kenya’s Country Director added that, “since poachers are using sophisticated technology, it’s high time that Kenya embraces the same. WWF is committed to supporting the integration of new technology and has already purchased the microchips at a cost of Ksh.1.5million (USD 17,647) and supporting the implanting exercise in the Masai Mara at a cost of Ksh.5million (USD 58,823).”

Currently, KWS and WWF are working together to ensure that Kenya meets the CITES CoP16 rhino decisions that seeks to ensure that rhinos remain viable and able to survive current and future threats. Success in this effort would not only secure rhino populations in Kenya but also deliver improved governance and institutional strengthening in government, improved ability of government to combat other transnational organized crimes, and increased national and regional stability, all of which creates a more conducive environment for sustainable economic development.

By Robert Magori WWF Life Project

Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis); Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya
Adult male black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis); Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.
© Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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