Konica Minolta South Africa handed over a cheque worth R398 000, its fourth donation thus far, to the World Wildlife Funds (WWF) African Rhino Programme on 27 September. The money will be used to further develop RhODIS (Rhino DNA Index System). The company has also renewed its support of the programme for the next year.
According to WWF, our substantial financial donation to the programme over the past year has helped in the South African rhino DNA index system, called RhODIS, contributing evidence to more than 400 investigative rhino poaching cases in South Africa, said Alan Griffith, MD of Konica Minolta South Africa.
It is heartening to see that this type of indisputable evidence is a strong factor in some serious sentences being handed down – including the two rhino poachers recently sentenced to a collective 58 years in prison – something that we hope will act as a deterrent to other would-be poachers.
The WWF-Konica Minolta South Africa partnership has been instrumental in support for the introduction of RhODIS into Kenya, where a large percentage of the critically endangered East African black rhino population resides. More than 300 DNA forensic kits have been donated to support both ongoing investigations and the collection of live rhino samples for DNA profiling within the region.
Dr Joseph Okori, the head of WWFs African Rhino Programme said that, while poaching prevention and investigation remain key, addressing the demand for rhino horn is also critical. In line with this, we have begun to upscale our efforts in addressing this side of the equation, in particular, creating a greater awareness of illegal trade concerns across Asia.
This meant that Konica Minolta South Africa’s contribution was also used for specialised rhino and horn scanners for micro-chipped marked rhinos and their horns. These kits have gone directly to special operation units within government, but some are to be handed over to Vietnam during the South Africa-Vietnam signing of a bilateral memorandum of understanding that would see strengthening of border and ports monitoring coupled with improved information sharing.
We are certainly in a growth phase of our partnership with Konica Minolta South Africa and believe that this type of strong corporate engagement can only lead to greater things for conservation. We look forward to a long and healthy relationship with the company and, together, plan to continue to support the continued delivery on rhino horn DNA profiling, as well as provide for the production and distribution of 600 forensic kits for five Africa rhino range states, to improve both rhino management and traceability, amongst additional objectives, said Okori.
Konica Minolta South Africa is passionate about the preservation of the majestic rhino and, based on the successes seen over 2011 and 2012, has pledged to continue to support WWF’s programme into 2013. We look forward to seeing many more conservation victories as well as the protection and growth of the African rhino population, said Griffith.