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Kenya Microchips Every Single Rhino to Fight Poaching

Kenya Microchips Every Single Rhino to Fight Poaching

Though many strategies have been devised for catching poachers in the act, the death toll of rhinos continues to rise. Kenya is pushing back with a massive effort, microchipping more than 1,000 rhinos to catch poachers.

Just this year we’ve sadly seen titles to articles that spell out doom for wild rhinos, including:
Rhino poaching has gone up 5000% since 2007
Poachers have killed more rhinos this year than ever before
Poachers have now killed all the rhinos in Mozambique

And that’s just this year. There is little time left for rhinos, and Kenya, a country so dependent on tourism based on its wildlife — including iconic species like rhinos — is taking action.

BBC News reports that more than 1,000 rhinos will get microchips implanted in their horns. World Wildlife Fund is donating the chips, plus five scanners, for a cost of over $15,000, though that is just a drop in the bucket when the total cost of tracking, darting, and implanting each rhino is considered.

Still, it is well worth the cost. Setting aside the fact that rhinos are an important animal to be valued simply because they exist, they are also important to the tourism economy, which has a much larger price tag in the long run than any immediate profit gained from killing a rhino and selling its horn. With this effort, every rhino can be tracked, and if killed, the horn can more easily be traced to catch the poachers.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said in a statement: “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.”

Microchipping is one strategy. Meanwhile, poisoning rhino horns is another strategy. Because rhino horns are falsely thought to be beneficial to one’s health in Traditional Chinese Medicine (it is about as beneficial as chewing on your own fingernails, which are made of the same material), Ed Hern, owner of the Rhino and Lion Reserve near Johannesburg decided that poisoning rhino hornsto make people who consume them sick will change the demand, deterring people from buying the horns at all. The horns are also dyed so that they can be easily spotted and traced through their route on the black market, and hopefully leading authorities to the poachers. You can read more about the poison-and-dye strategy on Scientific American.

However, Kenya is sticking with microchips. KWS states, “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.”

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Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife, ,

by Jaymi Heimbuch, from Treehugger

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Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

75 comments

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6:27AM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

thanks for sharing

6:45PM PST on Dec 3, 2013

microchipping, dying the horns, poisoning the horns so they can't be consumed--excellent ways to fight poaching!

3:44AM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

A local museum even had to remove the horns from its old, stuffed exhibits. This is how bad it has got. Probably best to teach people that magic potions using horns, claws, etc do not work.

3:38AM PDT on Nov 2, 2013

WE have made China wealthy and powerful,,,,,,,,,, ,the world seems to have everything made there,and we buy ...............I don't see our governments coming down on them for their increasing demands for ivory,tiger and lion bones,rhino horn and the vile slaughter that gets them,WHY?,because industry has become dependent upon vast profits,people on cheap goods, and nothing seems more important these days! God forbid we upset the cash cow even to stop the ignorant,heartless evil demand ,and we all know about china's animal welfare track record too.

9:20AM PDT on Nov 1, 2013

Doesn't seem to be doing much good, does it? Market still booming, which means the demand is still high, money's good and enforcement's bad. Marriage made in heaven.

12:55AM PDT on Oct 25, 2013

Good on Kenya. Anything to help is good and appreciated.

Not sure on horn poisoning simply because they use them in fights at times, intentionally or accidentally. They might fatally wound another rhino they only would have injured a bit without the poison? Just a thought.

Stupid poachers.

9:50AM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

KILL ALL POACHERS!!!

4:21PM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

All good ideas. I particularly like the poison horn idea, except I'd much prefer that the poison used be fatal. We won't stop this until we start executing poachers, but killing customers could really speed things up. Make it happen a few times and China will start executing the sellers of traditional medicines, who will, in turn, rat out those who sold them the horns. Rinse and repeat up the food chain and China could potentially dismantle a lot of the supply chain, which would be great for endangered species everywhere.

12:31AM PDT on Oct 23, 2013

thanks for sharing

5:52PM PDT on Oct 22, 2013

Sadly noted

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