US$13 million hi-tech forensic lab for Kenya Wildlife Service to be set up

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the body responsible for management of Kenya’s Wildlife heritage, has officially started the construction of a US$13 million forensics laboratory to help it deal with the increasing poaching incidents in the country.

The lab will be equipped with sophisticated equipment to help solve crimes involving wildlife that have until now been lacking legal grounds in terms of evidence in court cases despite the strong intelligence and investigations carried out by KWS.

While speaking at the launch of the project, the Director of KWS Julius Kipng’etich said: “By establishing a forensic and genetics laboratory that will employ modern DNA technology, this challenge will be surmounted because it will be possible to connect wildlife trophies and bush meat to specific poaching incidents.”

According to Kipng’etich , the lab will also assist in tracking and keeping record of the genetic status of the endangered species of wildlife, and also help determine isolated and special gene pools that require special protection.

Kenya has lost over 80 percent of its elephant population due to illegal poaching, with the number of Black Rhinos dwindling from 20,000 in 1970 to a mere 577 in 2011.

Wildlife is one of the main contributors to tourist attractions in Kenya, spread across over 48 National Parks and Reserves. The move by KWS to build the state-of-the art lab is seen as a way of protecting the countries heritage and main foreign exchange earner.

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