Seven Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe court over rhino horn stash

January 4, 2019 | Brainwave Science

Seven Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe court over rhino horn stash

SITUATION

Seven Chinese nationals were arrested last month with rhino horn pieces valued at around a million dollars. They appeared at a Zimbabwean court on Thursday because they are facing charges of breaching the wildlife laws of the country.

Zeng Dengui, 35; Peicon Jang, 35; Chen Zhiangfu, 30; Qui Jinchang, 29; Yu Xian, 25; Yong Zhu, 25 and Liu Cheng, 23 were arrested on the 23rd of December in a police raid at their home. The police received a tip-off about them. Pieces of rhino horn were found hidden in a mattress, plastic bags and in boxes at a suburban house. All seven arrested men are unemployed, appeared in the court of Victoria Falls town. The police indicated they want further charges of money laundering and motor vehicle theft.

According to Zimbabwe’s parks and wildlife laws, it is illegal to keep, possess, sell or dispose of any protected animal’s products or trophies. The rhino horn pieces weighed 20.98 kilogrammes and were valued at $938,700. Rhino horns are highly coveted in some Asian countries such as China and Vietnam, where they have fetched up to $60,000 per kilogramme, for their supposed medicinal qualities. This high demand has caused magnified poaching and trafficking in Africa, especially in neighbouring South Africa. South Africa contains about 80% of the world’s rhino population has lost more than 7,100 animals over the past decade.

In 2016, wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe began dehorning the country’s 700 adult rhinos to curb rampant poaching.

CHALLENGE

Zimbabwe is home to the world’s fourth largest black rhino population after South Africa, Namibia and Kenya. The rhino population in Zimbabwe has continued to increase recording a 10 per cent annual growth despite rampant poaching activities in the country. The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority’s public relations manager, Retired Major Edward Mbewe, said the authority had stepped up efforts to protect the rhino in Zimbabwe. He added that the authority had put in place 24-hour patrols in these zones to curb poaching and people were not allowed in these areas.

Zimbabwe has become a victim to the high demand for illegal wildlife products including Rhino horns which are smuggled to Asian Countries.

Trafficking of wildlife and its products not only leads to environmental destruction but also leads to an increase in money launderingterrorismhuman trafficking, drug and illegal firearm trafficking. There is an urgent need for a way to stop the entire supply chain of animal products trafficking.

It is extremely difficult to catch poachers, but now that 7 have been arrested in possession of rhino horns, the onus lies with law enforcement agencies to extract as much information from such suspects. They can only go so far using conventional interrogation and investigation techniques. Species on the brink of extinction can only be saved with a large-scale crackdown on their poaching and trafficking.

WHY ICOGNATIVE?

Poaching is rampant, and at this rate, several species may be wiped out within the next ten years. Law enforcement agencies not only need to defeat crime but also help preserve nature and wildlife. The conventional reactive approaches are simply not enough in this war which is often underestimated and downplayed. This is because the victims are speechless. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that illegal wildlife trade is a very serious transnational organized crime which requires effective legislation and criminal justice systems. In 2014, it amounted to US$8 – US$10 billion annually.

The Zimbabwean anti-trafficking agencies are trying their best to curb trafficking for a long time. They can use the cutting-edge investigation technology developed by Brainwave Science. iCognative is the key to defeating organizations behind the smuggling of wildlife animals and/or their body parts.

Forensic science is evolving.  It was discovered that the print of a human finger is unique to an individual. The same goes for DNA profiling. Unfortunately, fingerprints and DNA evidence are uncovered in only 1–2% of all cases. Thus, the application of these techniques is extremely limited. Also, DNA fingerprinting can only be successfully applied when investigators collect and preserve fingerprints and biological samples. This process is also very time-consuming and labour-intensive.

iCognative by Brainwave Science aids forensics radically. It pinpoints and traces the origin of poaching and smuggling, which is stored within the brain of the planners and plotters.

In the case of the arrest of the 7 Chinese nationals in possession of rhino horns, iCognative can help tremendously. The evidence gathered from the houses that were raided includes biological samples which can help narrow down the to the region where the Rhinos may have been hunted. This may lead to aides and enablers in that region. The arrested poachers/smugglers cannot fool the iCognative test.  As they are Chinese, they are likely to have deep links in China and Asia with respect to smuggling of Rhino Horns. Evidence such as Images, words and phrases (also called stimuli) related to the smuggling case can be uploaded into the iCognative system. The stimuli can comprise names/images/phrases referring to known trafficking routes, known locations in China/Zimbabwe where Rhino horns change hands,  arrested poachers, etc.

The subject is made to wear a proprietary headset which measures his brainwave response when he is exposed to each stimulus. Within 45 minutes, the iCognative system analyses the data and computes the result. The data is then analysed with a proprietary algorithm that computes the result. The results showing statistical confidence in percentage are displayed at the end of analysis in two categories: “Information Present” or “Information Absent.” The test is fully automated, easy to learn and administer. The USP of iCognative is that does not involve any torture during interrogation. Also, since it directly records and analyses brainwaves, it is known to be fool-proof. This means that there are no known countermeasures. It reports no false positives and no false negatives. This non-invasive technique has revolutionized intelligence collection across the world. iCognative has over 99% accuracy and is backed up by Brainwave Science which is guided by relentless research and unshaken ethics.

iCognative is the weapon which the Zimbabwean agencies need to win the war against wildlife trafficking and related crimes.

News Source: News24

Image: WP