How Kenya’s New Wildlife Forensic and Genetics Lab Will Help Save Wildlife
By Fredrick Nzwili
In Kenya, poaching of wildlife for bush meat, trophies such as rhino horns and elephant tusks, skins of animals, feathers of birds, as well as illegal trafficking in animals for the pet trade such as rare chameleons and parrots, has reached epic proportions.
While many suspects of these crimes have been arrested, they often elude punishment because concrete, scientific evidence that would result in prosecutions and convictions isn’t available.
This is bound to change following the launch of a forensic and genetic laboratory last month at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi.
The laboratory—the first of its kind in East Africa—is expected to aid in the provision of accurate identification of seized wildlife and wildlife products in order to bring to justice perpetrators of wildlife crimes.
Francis Gakuya, the head of KWS’s veterinary service department, who will coordinate the new laboratory, explains how it will make it possible to convict more wildlife poachers, what other work will be done there, and the main challenges it faces.
Why did KWS decide to establish a forensic and genetic lab?
We started thinking about a forensic laboratory about 15 years ago. By then, how to differentiate between common meat and bush meat was proving a challenge. We knew wild animals were being slaughtered for their —> Read More