NAIVASHA, Kenya, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Kenya on Tuesday began implanting microchips in every black rhino in the world’s famous Masai Mara Games Reserve, southwest Kenya, to fight against poaching.
The Kenya Rhino Microchip Program runs along with the ear-notching and tracking of unmarked or younger rhinos of endangered black rhino around the park.
Martin Mulama, WWF Kenya Rhino Program coordinator, said the exercise involves fixing a microchip in the rhino’s horns and notching their ears as one way of protecting them from poachers.
“The black rhino is an endangered species in Africa due to increased cases of poaching, and the current exercise will help security officers to easily monitor and track these animals,” he said during the launch of the exercise.
Mulama said 70,000 U.S. dollar had been allocated towards the unique ten-day exercise that would help enhance monitoring of the animals around the park and also improve their security.
He added that the conservation body and other stakeholders would later conduct an audit of all the rhinos in the Mara.
The microchips will serve to strengthen rhino monitoring, anti-poaching activities and also support anti-trafficking mechanisms nationally.
The animals are part of the big five that draw tourists, a major source of revenue for the east African nation. The other four are the lion, elephant, leopard and buffalo.
The East African nation is currently embracing the use of more sophisticated technology to counter illegal wildlife trade.
KWS Senior Veterinary Officer Isaac Lekolool, who led the exercise, said the transmitters would help reduce chances of poachers targeting the animals.
Lekolool noted that they were using the exercise to also collect biological samples for their forensic laboratory, which could be used in strengthening their court cases.