Kenya to microchip rhino's horns

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Originally published on October 17, 2013

Kenya is embarking on a new ambitious project to combat poaching: micro-chipping rhino's horns.

According to reports, the microchip will be implanted in the horn and the body of more than 1,000 rhinos to enable live animals to be tracked and poached horns to be traced.

Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same substance as human fingernails. It is highly prized in Asia, where it is used in traditional medicine as it is believed to have healing properties.

The micro-chipping project to monitor and protect rhinos is supported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which according to the BBC donated the chips and five scanners at a cost of USD15,300.
The sum however is only a small part of the total amount of money that will be needed to track and dart each rhino to make them fit the device, the BBC reported.

Poaching incidents are on the rise in Kenya, where the rhinos population amounts to about 1,000 animals.

According to Voice of America, WWF Kenya spokesman Robert Magori said that in 2012 poachers killed at least 23 rhinos, while at least 10 have been killed this year.

The microchips are supposed to strengthen rhino's monitoring and deter poachers from attempting to hack off rhinos' horns and smuggle them outside the country.

"They will have no idea where the microchips are," Voice of America quoted Magori as saying, "and so, it could be extremely dangerous for them to go through ports of entry as well as any immigration areas without them being noticed."

According to the BBC, as well as preserving rhinos populations, the initiative could help protect Kenya's lucrative tourism industry.

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