Kenya begins DNA inventory of Rhino and Elephant stockpile

Aug 3, 2015 Kenya has begun an inventory of its national elephant ivory and rhino horn stockpile. The exercise which is expected to last for 45 days is aimed at creating a DNA reference library.

According to Kenya’s environment secretary, Judy Wakhungu, over 21 tonnes of elephant and rhino trophies have already been inventoried.

This is the first time these high value trophy stockpiles will be digitally inventoried in one go and shall form the basis for future national audits and fulfillment of the provisions of the Wildlife Act 2013 and reporting to the CITES convention,” He said.

This action is also aimed at curbing poaching, an activity that has been on the rise in the last few years across sub-Saharan Africa and is threatening the vital tourism industry of the region.

The Kenyan parliament recently passed into law strict anti-poaching laws and has stepped up security at its national parks to grind poaching to halt.

Kenya’s environment secretary added that a DNA profile would be created from the inventory, to eventually play a major role in the prosecution of wildlife-related crimes.

The inventory exercise will involve collection of elephant ivory and rhino horn samples which will be used to create a DNA reference library for profiling the national populations of the elephants and rhinos. This DNA reference library to be created will be essential component in analysis of forensic evidence for use in prosecution of wildlife crimes not only in the country but also in the region,”

Veteran conservationists, Richard Leakey also commented on the country’s strides to fight poaching:

“With the tough laws that Kenya has now enacted, we can strengthen our own security capacity. I think ivory trading or ivory acquisition through poaching in Kenya could quite quickly come to a perfectly manageable level again. We are always going to lose a few elephants. We have a lot of elephants, but we don’t have enough to get to the level we were in 1988, 1989 where we were losing three of four thousand a year. So we must not be complacent. At the moment, I think our biggest challenge is to persuade the international community to insist at the international conference next year at CITES that there must be no, no variance of a total ban,”.

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