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WWF welcomes a recent decision by the Bidvest Company Konica Minolta South Africa to renew its support for WWF’s African Rhino Programme.
For every bizhub sold, Konica Minolta South Africa makes a difference by contributing to WWF’s ARP, which supports RhODIS, the country’s rhino DNA database.
“RhODIS is making a solid impact on the sentencing of poachers and the length of jail-terms handed down. Recently, two men were jailed for 29 years each for being in possession of rhino horn and the illegal hunting of two rhino,” says Alan Griffith, Konica Minolta South Africa’s MD.
He explains, “A sample of each carcass was taken and, with the help of Dr Cindy Harper, head of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria, and the RhODIS lab team, they positively matched the DNA to the horns found the day prior. Owing to this match, the Nelspruit Magistrate Court could prosecute the two men on both counts.”
Griffith emphasizes that it is cases like this one, which illustrates the chain of events that RhODIS sets in motion to help stop the illegal trade of rhino horn and the poaching of these animals. This has motivated Konica Minolta South Africa to continue its support of RhODIS and highlight its impact. “Being the first country to successfully match the DNA of rhino horn to the DNA of a carcass, should make every South African proud and aware of this patented forensic innovation,” he adds.
Dr Joseph Okori, head of WWF’s ARP, says “Konica Minolta South Africa’s contribution strengthens South Africa’s ability to help ensure the survival of the rhino and continues to be a major source of rhinos for the rest of Africa.”
He adds that over the past year, Konica Minolta South Africa’s investment went into supporting and achieving the following:
- Specialised rhino and horn scanners for micro-chipped marked rhinos and their horns;
- Capacity building and training;
- Presentation and peer review of RhODIS application and achievements;
- Purchase of over 300 DNA forensic kits;
- Support for RhODIS application in Kenya and;
- Contribution to over 400 investigative cases in South Africa.