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Media Release: Unite Against Poaching use DNA to stop poaching

Date: 19th October 2011

Unite Against Poaching, a collaboration between Unitrans and the SANParks Honorary Rangers, has announced that it will donate R 250 000 towards a project which uses the latest DNA profiling techniques against the Rhino poaching scourge which is decimating the rhino population in Southern Africa.

With the number of poached animals set to top 400 rhino this year, the DNA profiling and identification of rhino and rhino parts, can play a major role in tracing and prosecuting rhino poachers. The RhODIS (Rhino DNA Index System) project is run by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the Faculty of Veterinary Science of the University of Pretoria at Onderstepoort. The institution has developed and validated a DNA profiling technique which can individually identify rhinoceros horns and link recovered horns to individual poaching cases. Thereby linking a horn trafficker to a poaching incident or a poacher caught with horns in his possession with the carcass of an individual rhinoceros. This provides the forensic evidence for conviction and harsher sentencing.

The RhODIS database has grown to include over 3 000 samples from Southern African black and white rhino. The database has been used as a forensic tool to support investigation of several poaching incidents in the Kruger National Park and other provincial parks and on private land. This donation will help to grow this database further and fund DNA investigations.

The donation has been made possible through a system whereby Unitrans Volkswagen and Audi dealers donate R500 per vehicle purchased to the counter poaching efforts of the SANParks Honorary Rangers. These two organisations are commited to stop the rhino poaching scourge and ask the public to support them, by purchasing their next vehicle from a Unitrans dealer and in this way promote the counter poaching effort.

For more information please visit: www.uniteagainstpoaching.co.za

Issued by:
SANParks Honorary Rangers, Conservation Services National Project

Media enquiries:
Louis Lemmer, NEC Public Relations and Marketing, SANParks Honorary Rangers, e-mail: louis.lemmer@telkomsa.net

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