Robust Forensic Matching of Confiscated Horns to Individual poached African rhinoceros
Black and white rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis and Ceratotherium simum) are iconic African species that are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered and Near Threatened (http://www.iucnredlist.org/), respectively. At the end of the 19th century, Southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) numbers had declined to fewer than 50 animals in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi region of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province of South Africa, mainly due to uncontrolled hunting. Efforts by the Natal Parks Board facilitated an increase in population to over 20,000 in 2015 through aggressive conservation management. Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) populations declined from several hundred thousand in the early 19th century to ∼65,000 in 1970 and to ∼2,400 by 1995 with subsequent genetic reduction, also due to hunting, land clearances and later poaching. In South Africa, rhinoceros poaching incidents have increased from 13 in 2007 to 1,215 in 2014. This has occurred despite strict trade bans on rhinoceros products and strict enforcement in recent years.
Harper, Cindy; Anette Ludwig; Amy Clarke; Kagiso Makgopela; Andrey A. Yurchenko; Alan Guthrie; Pavel Dobrynin; Gaik Tamazian; Richard Emslie; Marile van Heerden; Markus Hofmeyr; Roderick Potter; Johannes Roets; Piet Beytell; Moses Otiende; Linus Kariuki; Raoul du Toit; Natasha Anderson; Joseph Okori; Alexey Antonik; Klaus-Peter Koepfli; Peter Thompson; and Stephen James O'Brien. 2018. "Robust Forensic Matching of Confiscated Horns to Individual poached African rhinoceros." Current Biology 28, (1): R13-R14. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.11.005.