Thursday 9 October 2014

UNEP-GEF Rhino Project launched in South Africa

Environment Minister Edna Molewa on Wednesday announced the official launch of the UNEP-GEF Rhino Project.

“The project is aimed at strengthening law enforcement capabilities to combat wildlife crime, with a specific
focus on rhino,” she told reporters in Pretoria.

The co-operation agreement between the United Nations Environment Programme and her department was signed on 8th of May this year. Key partners include the SA Police Service, the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL), SANParks, CITES, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“The UNEP-GEF Rhino Project seeks to strengthen our law enforcement capabilities through improved forensic capacity, strengthened data gathering systems, and enhanced co-operation mechanisms at an international level,” Molewa said.

Speaking at the event, deputy director general legal authorisation, compliance and enforcement, Ishaam Abader, said forensic technology, which involved DNA sampling of rhino horns, would aid the prosecution of poachers and smugglers.

“The use of the forensic technology is actually for better prosecution. For example, if we can identify where
a particular rhino came from using forensic technology, we can then assist in the prosecution of cases.”
Chief director enforcement Frances Craigie said the project would help build up a rhino DNA database.
The project’s focus was on the use of forensic technology to combat rhino poaching, information sharing and
analysis among national law enforcement agencies, and co-operation and exchange of information at an
international level.

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