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karlien@wildlifeprotector.africa

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02/12/2020

Keep your eyes open.

What piqued my interest in Counter Human Trafficking? Not such a strange question taken the world we live in, but not a generic answer. Imagine your worst fear as a parent, having your child abducted knowing the myriad of possible outcomes if your son or daughter ended up in the hands of a human trafficking syndicate…

In 1981 a three-year old, blond girl was playing on the front porch while her heavily pregnant mother was overlooking from the dining room window. Without any warning, an unidentified male grabbed the girl and ran off with her…

In 2005 a dark-haired boy disappeared in the blink of an eye in a large retail pharmacy. His mother and grandmother started a frantic search, snaking between, what felt like hundreds of shoppers, in search of the beloved, missing child…

What both stories have in common is the executive director of Wildlife Protector EDNA NPC. The blond girl grew up and gotten herself a postgraduate education in Psychology with special interest in Criminology. She became the proud parent of the dark-haired little boy. Although both incidents had been positively averted, the alternative makes all your hair stand up. Should the incidents had played out as any participating member of a human trafficking syndicate would expect and hope, the blond three-year-old girl could have landed in the hands of traditional healers, being mutilated and her body part parts sold as traditional medicine or “muthi”. The dark-haired boy was likely to have been sold into a life of slavery or been trained as a child soldier to start fighting at an age as young as seven.

When a child is abducted in a shopping mall, he or she is likely to be passed on to different members of the syndicate on average 21 times. Children get drugged to prevent them making alarm and often transported in shipping containers with at least 100 other children.

In 1981, DNA research had not yet reached the level of sophistication as is the case in 2020 and neither the girl nor the perpetrator was likely to be identified by means of DNA matching. Even in 2005, the technology was there but not readily available to be used in searching for a missing child. In 2020 we have the technology and Wildlife Protector EDNA NPC has the capacity to obtain the DNA material of any person in a non-invasive manner and add the genome on a global database, allowing for law enforcement agencies, immigration officers and the likes to use the information to counter human trafficking.

I’m not saying that by having a global DNA database human trafficking will be eradicated, but I am saying that if it becomes easier to trace and retrieve missing persons and posing a challenge to the syndicates, lives can, and will be saved. We are all familiar with the proverb that you can’t change the world but that you can change the world for one person - this is it. The technology and capacity that we have available will change the world for one or hundreds of people. Wildlife Protector EDNA NPC do not have an easy solution to fix a broken world, but along with co-director, Werner Booysen, our children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and our precious wildlife, can be traced and protected from the harsh reality of human and wildlife trafficking.



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