The South African National Parks (SANParks) is refuting a report made in Beeld regarding rhino DNA samples. The paper's report is based on an unnamed source within the Kruger National Park (KNP), who alleges foul play and the deliberate switching off of fridges storing the samples, a claim rejected by the Kruger National Park Environmental Crime Scene Investigations Unit representative, who said that data was never lost.
KNP spokesperson William Mabasa said that on the weekend of 13 October, 2012, only seven collected DNA samples decomposed due to a power failure experienced at Skukuza Airport and not 60 as reported in the paper. "It is important to note that the samples that went off included blood, tissues and part of a rhino ear, and as result of this loss a new sample was collected to replace the one that decomposed."
Mabasa said that apart from the samples that are prone to decomposition, other samples can be collected from tail hair and toe nails that would not, in any case, decompose. "Therefore an insinuation that data was lost is far from the truth and misleading, based on hearsay."
Measures have been put in place
According to Mabasa, measures have been put in place to ensure that when power failure is experienced an alarm will go off to alert the authorities. "It must be noted that samples are not kept indefinitely at this facility in KNP. "The facility is merely used as a holding place until they are moved to Onderstepoort in Pretoria for further process and data collection."
The fight against rhino poaching will not be detracted by these sideshows, designed to create confusion and mistrust. "We are confident in winning this war and invite members of the media to verify their facts before publicising," concluded Mabasa.