GENEWATCH
 
TOPIC UPDATE: RHINO DNA DATABASE LEADS TO POACHER ARRESTS
By CRG Staff
 

A rhinoceros DNA database in South Africa has led to 380 arrests and 25 sentences for poachers. The project, called RhODIS (for "rhino DNA index system") helps to link samples from recovered horns to samples taken from the carcasses of poached rhinos.

The operation, based on the FBI's Combined DNA Index System for humans (CODIS), was developed through a collaboration between wildlife officers and the South African Police Service's forensics lab. Between samples collected from horns, the carcasses left behind by poachers, and rhinos living on game preserves, the database contains DNA profiles for over 4,000 individual rhinoceroses.

The system was recently adopted in Kenya, with other countries such as India and Botswana showing an interest as well.

In South Africa, those working on RhODIS say funding is a primary problem, with expensive laboratory costs and over 17,000 rhinos still to be profiled—and 171 rhinos poached in the first 100 days of this year.

To learn more about WWF's African Rhino Programme, visit
www.wwf.org.za/what_we_do/species/arp

 
 
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