R25m to combat rhino poaching

Environmental Affairs Dept. will use a R25 million donation to fund a DNA rhino database.

Rhino on the game farm belonging to alleged poaching kingpin Dawie Groenewald. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Environmental Affairs on Wednesday said it would use a R25 million donation to fund a DNA rhino database.

The funding was approved by the Global Environmental Facility to boost crime fighting efforts in the sector.

Meanwhile, officials from the department are preparing to travel to Hong Kong to view rhino horns and elephant tusks which was seized there in 2011.

They will check whether the stolen items came from South Africa.

While rhino poaching statistics increase, Environmental Affairs is implementing plans to establish a comprehensive DNA database.

The department's Albi Modise said this is in line with a set of new approved norms and standards, which will see DNA samples taken from all translocated rhino's.

"This is primarily aimed at making sure that when if horns are intercepted anywhere in the world, we can identify whether it came from South Africa via the DNA rhino database."

At least 235 rhino have been poached since January.

Many Asian countries believe rhino horns can cure cancer, but there is no evidence to prove this.

Earlier in June, the department announced it had appointed an expert, Mavuso Msimang, to investigate rhino poaching.

Msimang will also explore whether legal trade in rhino horn could stem the tide.