Demonstrating its continued commitment to the WWF's rhino conservation work for the year, Bidvest company, Konica Minolta South Africa has handed over a cheque for R285,600, bringing the total donated for the first half of this financial year to more than R560,000.
In response to a dramatic increase in rhino deaths, in September 2012 WWF South Africa launched a new national programme to strengthen rhino conservation efforts. Part of this programme covers ongoing support for the Africa-wide rhino database using rhino horn DNA analysis (RhODIS), which contributes to forensic investigations at the scene of the crime and for court evidence that greatly strengthens the prosecution cases.
The funds donated by the company are used to assist project partners in achieving the programme's strategic goals, including the critical work of the University of Pretoria's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory, in assisting in the running and further development of RhODIS. According to WWF, this substantial financial contribution in 2012 played a critical role in sustaining RhODIS, which in turn contributed compelling evidence to more than 400 rhino poaching cases and affected the length of sentences handed down.
"No single solution"
Dr Jo Shaw, rhino coordinator of WWF-SA, says, "There is no single solution to the poaching crisis and a range of related activities are needed right along the illegal chain. Criminal syndicates involved in illegal rhino horn trade have become increasingly sophisticated. WWF-SA will be supporting enhanced communication and collaboration between law enforcement agencies to enable them to act proactively and arrest and prosecute with the greatest impact."
Says Alan Griffith, MD of Konica Minolta South Africa, "We are delighted that the this relationship has played a role in broadening the RhODIS reach within South Africa and the system's introduction into Kenya, where a large percentage of the critically endangered East African black rhino population resides.
"The company is serious about assisting in the preservation of the rhino and looks forward to a sustained relationship with WWF-SA, with continued support for rhino horn DNA profiling. We hope that the sponsorship provided can help towards the production and distribution of 600 forensic kits for up to five Africa rhino range states this year," he concludes.