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UP at the cusp of wildlife research and protection

The Faculty of Veterinary Science is involved in a number of groundbreaking research interventions. The Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station in the Kruger National Park has been given a new lease on life and will be developed as a research platform focusing on integrated veterinary aspects of the increased disease risks created by the development of transfrontier conservation areas. In an endeavour to save the endangered rhinoceros from the hands of ruthless poachers, the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory has developed a method to extract nuclear DNA from rhinoceros horn and to genotype it using a set of DNA markers. This means that each rhino can be identified by its horn.

New lease on life for Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station 

The Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station in the Kruger National Park was resuscitated through a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding between the University of Pretoria, the Peace Parks Foundation and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA). The station will be developed as a research platform focusing on integrated veterinary aspects of the increased disease risks created by the development of transfrontier conservation areas. This will enable national and international researchers to conduct focused research on the dynamics and drivers of animal diseases at the interface between wildlife, livestock and humans, within the context of environmental health. 

The station is close to the Faculty of Veterinary Science’s Mnisi community engagement programme and the Hluvukani Animal Health Centre, where research and services focus on the dynamics and effects of animal disease in a community at a wildlife interface. 

At the opening of Hans Hoheisen were, among others: Mr Charles Ndabeni, CEO of MTPA; Prof Gerry Swan, Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science (UP), Ms Mnisi and Chief Mnisi, Mr Sello Moloko, Chairman of Alexander Forbes; Mr Jabu Mahlangu, MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism in Mpumalanga, Mr Anthony Nicklin, Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, and Mr Werner Myburgh, CEO: Peace Parks Foundation. Prof Robin Crewe, Vice Principal, UP (not visible on photo), was also present

Mr Charles Ndabeni (CEO: MTPA), Prof Gerry Swan (Dean: Veterinary Science, UP), Ms Mnisi and Chief Mnisi, Mr Sello Moloko (Chairman: Alexander Forbes), Mr Jabu Mahlangu (MEC:  Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Mpumalanga), Mr Anthony Nicklin (Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust) and Mr Werner Myburgh (CEO: Peace Parks Foundation). 


Chief Mnisi of the Mnisi Traditional Authority and Mr Jabu Mahlangu (MEC: Economic Development, Environment and Tourism, Mpumalanga) officially opened the Hans Hoheisen Wildlife Research Station.

Saving the rhino 

Rhino poaching reached alarming levels in 2010. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the Onderstepoort Campus is at the forefront in efforts to support forensic investigations to curb this phenomenon. The VGL has developed a method to extract nuclear DNA from rhinoceros horn and to genotype it using a set of DNA markers. This means that each rhino can be identified by its horn. 

This technique also provides a viable platform for the potential establishment of a managed and controlled method of legal trade in rhino horn, which is perhaps the only avenue left to save the rhino from its imminent devastation at the hands of ruthless poachers.