Ideas

Brainiac

Big Data: 5,800

UNSPECIFIED, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 16: A member of the farm team stands with a sedated and blindfolded white rhino, before it has it's horn trimmed at the ranch of rhino breeder John Hume, on October 16, 2017 in the North West Province of South Africa. John Hume is currently the owner of around 1500 white and black rhinos, which he keeps under armed guard on his 8000 hectare property. In a bid to prevent poaching and conserve the different species of rhino, the horns of the animals are regularly trimmed, with 264 of the off-cuts recently being placed on sale at auction. The controversial decision to sell the horns was made on the basis that the illegal market creates an inflated value, while a controlled system would lower the prices and the need to poach. Mr Hume believes that the only way to ensure that the rhino does not become extinct is through farming the animals on a large scale and legalising the sale of rhino horn globally. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
Leon Neal/Getty Images
A member of the farm team stands with a sedated and blindfolded white rhino before its horn is trimmed at a ranch in South Africa. In a bid to prevent poaching, the horns of the animals are regularly trimmed and the ranch is under armed guard.

That’s how many genetic samples from crime scenes have been submitted to a DNA database of African rhinoceroses, which has resulted in more than 120 poaching convictions over the past eight years. A paper published this month in Current Biology declares the database project a success, even though only 2 percent of the queries have resulted in criminal cases. Researchers found that targeted use of the database was useful in cracking the transnational syndicates that run the illegal trade. Rhino horns are particularly prized in Asia, where a kilogram of horn can sell for $60,000.

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