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Nuclear science utilized to protect the African rhino

On May 13th the innovative anti-poaching “Rhisotope Project” was launched. The project which is based on nuclear science, has the potential to drastically reduce Rhino poaching.

The project was initiated by the University of Witwatersrand (WITs) and is being implemented under a global collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Colorado State University (USA), ROSATOM (Russian Federation) and the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) as well as global scientists, researchers, South African rhino owners and veterinary surgeon Dr William Fowlds.

The Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom is a key supporter and partner of the unique international technology collaboration between universities and nuclear organisations. The launch of the project happened at the magnificent Buffalo Kloof Private Game Reserve, which is also an important collaborator in the project.

On the day of the launch, the first phase of the project was implemented, a trace amount of completely harmless stable isotopes was carefully introduced into the horns of two rhinos. For the next three months scientists will monitor the rhinos and analyse various samples to understand how the isotope interacts within the horn and the animal.

The key aspect of this research will be to confirm that by introducing radioactive isotopes into the horns of these rare and beautiful animals it will cause them no harm. Computer and phantom modelling will also be used to confirm this as well as identify the appropriate radioactive isotope and quantity to be used.

Source: Further Africa

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