Anti-poaching dogs, that are capable of both tracking and attacking suspects, take at least two years to initially train. Thereafter, regular refresher training is needed to keep these game-changers in the fight against poaching at peak performance and condition.
Belgian Melanois's are becoming an increasingly popular breed of dog for this role due to their superb intelligence, incredible stamina and immense strength. Dogs are trained to immediately obey the command of their handler and will only attack on command. During a training session, at one of the Big Game Parks reserves in Swaziland, I watched this dog in the image throw the ranger, that was acting as a suspect, two meters into the air before grabbing him and thoroughly shaking him until his handler instructed him to stop. The dogs are also capable of following a spoor at a full run through the bush with the handler trailing behind the dog and attached by a long rope. Training starts when the dogs are only a few weeks old and given the time it takes to fully train a dog, it is very costly exercise.
This conservation photography project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.
Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.
Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.