(Xinhua) -- Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)
on Friday begun implanting microchips in every rhino in the
world’s famous Masai Mara Games Reserve in an extensive process
that will include sedating hundreds of animals.
The Kenya Rhino Microchip Program
runs along with the ear notching of unmarked or younger rhinos
and is being implemented by the KWS and the Narok county
government with the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
KWS’s veterinary surgeon Isaac
Lekolool, said the deployment of microchips and notching of
rhino ears combined with forensic DNA technology will allow for
successful traceability of every live animal within Kenya and
all rhino horns in the stockpiles.
forensic DNA technology will greatly improve the ability of
prosecutors to bring to court a case of not only possession of
a wildlife trophy, but will also be used to trace back the
horn to a poaching incident, thus providing greater evidence
hence more punitive penalties,” Lekolool said in a statement
issued on Friday.
The microchip is less than 2
inches long and can barely be traced by poachers. The fitting
process is expected to take up to four months.
The agency said 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.
Decimated by illegal killings,
the endangered rhino is increasingly under attack by poachers
using high-tech, sophisticated technology.
The microchips will serve to
strengthen rhino monitoring, anti- poaching activities and also
support anti-trafficking mechanisms nationally.
The East African nation is
currently embracing the use of more sophisticated technology to
counter illegal wildlife trade and stop loss of flagship species
such as rhinos and elephants.
poachers are using sophisticated technology, it’s high time that
Kenya embraces the same,” said Mohammed Awer, WWF Kenya’s
Awer said WWF is committed to
supporting the integration of new technology and has already
purchased the microchips at a cost of 17,647 U.S. dollars and
supporting the implanting exercise in the Mara at a cost of
Currently, KWS and WWF are
working together to ensure that Kenya meets the CITES CoP16
rhino decisions that seek to ensure that rhinos remain viable
and able to survive current and future threats.
in this effort would not only secure rhino populations in
Kenya but also deliver improved governance and institutional
strengthening in government, improved ability of government to
combat other transnational organized crimes, and increased
national and regional stability, all of which creates a more
conducive environment for sustainable economic development,”
The East African nation has 631
black rhinos and a total population of 1,030 rhinos.
The animals are part of the big
five that draw tourists, a major source of revenue for the east
African nation. The other four are the lion, elephant, leopard
Poaching of the rhino horn is a
lucrative industry, with much of the loot sold to the affluent
in Asia. In those countries, some believe the horns can cure a
series of ills, including cancer and hangovers, and can boost
The East African nation has also
lost 21 rhinos and 117 elephants to poachers since the beginning
of 2013. Out of these elephants, he said, 37 were killed in
protected areas while 80 were outside protected areas.
In a bid to curb illegal trade in
ivory, KWS said it has increased education and awareness amongst
the Judiciary and general public that wildlife trafficking in
wildlife and wildlife products is a serious crime, which can be
classified as economic crime for illegal trading in ivory and