South Africa hosting International Rhinoceros DNA Sampling Training Workshop

05 November 2013


The Department of Environmental Affairs and the University of Pretoria’s Veterinary Genetics Laboratory is currently hosting a rhinoceros DNA sampling workshop at the Wildlife College near Hoedspruit in Limpopo. 

The illegal trade in rhinoceros horn continues to be one of the most structured criminal activities currently faced by wildlife enforcement authorities.

The CITES Conference of the Parties, at its 16th meeting, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 3 to 14 March 2013, stressed the need for increased cooperation amongst source, transit and destination countries affected by and who’s citizens are involved in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the subsequent illegal trade in rhinoceros horn.

In consultation with rhinoceros range states, the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) identified the need for training on rhinoceros horn DNA sampling for law enforcement officers as a priority.  The workshop is in support of capacity building interventions to combat illegal rhino horn trade.

South Africa was requested by the CITES Secretariat on behalf of ICCWC to host the workshop as the country maintains the Rhino DNA Index System (RhoDIS), and therefore has the suitable experts to deliver the required training.

The main objective of the rhinoceros DNA sampling workshopwill to enhance capacity of law enforcement officers working along national borders and in protected areas to detect, investigate and prosecute offenders involved in rhinoceros poaching illegal rhinoceros horn trade, with a special focus on the increased use of rhinoceros horn DNA sampling to combat illegal trade.

Law enforcement officers from each of the 11 African rhinoceros range states, as well as from China, Thailand and Vietnam, and South African National Parks, will participate.

The media are invited to attend a media conference at the Veterinary Laboratory Auditorium at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park on 6 November 2013.

The media conference will be addressed by the director of the UP Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, Dr Cindy Harper, and the ICCWC Representative to CITES, Mr Edward van Asch.

Dr Harper will hand over Samsung tablets containing an App developed by Samsung and the UP Veterinary Genetics Laboratory to field workers in the Kruger National Park and Mpumlanga to assist with their work in addressing rhino poaching.  This App is supports the RhODIS Rhino DNA testing system.

The details are as follows:

Date:      6 November 2013

Time:     12:30 for13:00

Venue:   Game Capture Unit, Skukuza, Kruger National Park

Media wishing to attend the workshop may contact:

Eleanor Momberg
Tel: 012 395 1884
Cell: 083 400 5741

Laura Mukwevho
Media Relations Practitioner: Kruger National Park
Tel: +27 13 735 4262
Cell: 082 807 1441

For media inquiries contact:
Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871