Kenya plans to place microchips in the horn of every rhino in the country in a bid to stamp out a surge in poaching that threatens the animals, AFP reported Wednesday (October 16th).
"Poachers are getting more sophisticated in their approach," Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto said. "So it is vital that conservation efforts also follow and embrace the use of more sophisticated technology to counter the killing of wildlife."
There are just over 1,000 rhinos in Kenya, and the tiny chips will be inserted and hidden in the horn, which is made of keratin, the same material as fingernails or hardened hair.
The World Wildlife Fund donated the chips as well as five scanners at a cost of $15,000, although tracking the rhinos to dart them and fit the device will cost considerably more.
The microchips are expected to improve the ability of police to prosecute poachers and traffickers, as they will allow every animal to be traced, potentially providing vital information on poaching and smuggling networks.
"Investigators will be able to link any poaching case to a recovered or confiscated horn, and this forms crucial evidence in court, contributing towards the prosecution's ability to push for sentencing of a suspected rhino criminal," KWS said in a statement.