NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is set to begin construction of a multi-million shilling wildlife forensic laboratory that will be key in research and investigations.
KWS Director Julius Kipng’etich said on Monday that the lab which will be constructed at total cost of Sh110 million will assist in forensic investigations on cases involving wildlife.
He said currently KWS was using a forensic laboratory in the University of Washington in Seattle for DNA analysis.
“And so we are moving towards empowering Kenya and East and Central Africa in general in having a facility that can support forensics and DNA analysis,” Kipng’etich said.
“For those who go to Burma market (a meat market in Nairobi), we will also be able to tell you whether you are eating dog meat, donkey meat or something close to that,” he added.
Attorney General Githu Muigai who officiated the ground breaking ceremony said the lab will help in providing evidence to bring to justice poachers and wildlife product smugglers.
“This marks a significant milestone in the efforts to conserve our wildlife. This initiative sends a strong and clear message that Kenya is ready to combat illegal trade in wildlife and poaching using scientifically proven evidence,” the AG said.
Already, KWS has received Sh60 million from various development partners to start the first phase of the project.
The results from tests in the laboratory are expected to be a major boost to the prosecution of wildlife crime and eventual conviction of the criminals.
According to KWS, due to the increased demand for rhinoceros horn, the lab will help provide for complete traceability of such products upon recovery of horn or other rhinoceros material.
KWS has already awarded a tender for the construction of the facility which is expected to be operational by the end of this year.
“This will be the first phase of the project where two rooms at the veterinary services complex at KWS headquarters will be renovated to temporarily house the lab at a cost of Sh14 million,” Kipng’etich stated.
The second phase of the project will involve construction of an ultra modern laboratory to house the lab in future estimated to cost about Sh50 million.
KWS is still mobilising funds to meet the total Sh110m budget.