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Kenya Microchipping Rhinos to Battle Poaching

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With rhinoceros species vanishing, poachers continue to hunt them for their horns. Demand has grown and poachers have profited as the horns, believed to be beneficial to human health in traditional Asian medicine, are sold to growing markets.

Meanwhile, Kenya is fighting back. The east African country is microchipping rhinoceroses in an effort to curb poaching. The World Wildlife fund has donated $15,000 worth of microchips and scanners to help the efforts. More than 1,000 rhinos will be microchipped.

Kenya has incentive to protect the rhinos, as their economy relies greatly on wildlife tourism. The Kenya Widlife Service (KWS) reports, “Tourism is the second largest sector of Kenya’s economy. Wildlife managed by KWS forms the backbone of Kenya’s tourism industry, since most visitors come above all to view wildlife.”

The microchips will be implanted in the rhinos’ horns, making it easier to track the rhinos and to track poachers. “Furthermore, investigators will be able to link any poached case to a recovered or confiscated horn and this forms crucial evidence in court contributing towards the prosecution’s ability to push for sentencing of a suspected rhino criminal,” states KWS.

“The deployment of specialised rhino horn tracking systems combined with forensic DNA technology will allow for 100 per cent traceability of every rhino horn and live animal within Kenya. This will serve to strengthen rhino monitoring, protect the animals on site and also support anti-trafficking mechanisms nationally and regionally.”

Some groups have advocated poisoning rhino horns to eliminate demand for the horns for medicine, and others have used Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs) or drones to track poachers.

A growing list of celebs have also joined in the call to protect the disappearing rhinos.

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