Dogs, without a doubt, have become one of the biggest and most successful game changers in the fight against poaching and wildlife crime. Apart from their incredible loyalty and drive to please their handlers, the dogs amazing sensory capabilities enables rapid detection of hidden illegal wildlife parts and the weapons that are used in such crimes. They have a superior ability over their human counterparts to track and locate suspects and this has not only speeded up follow-up operations but has increased the number of successful arrests of poachers.
Project Rhino in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa has a Canine Unit that has been successfully supporting on-the-ground ranger teams with reducing the negative impacts of rhino and other poaching in Zululand. The small team of three handlers and four dogs are responding on a virtual continual basis in support of anti-poaching efforts and apart from actual follow-up operations, it is important that ongoing training and support of the handlers and dogs takes place and that they also receive adequate rest periods in between the arduous working conditions.
Recently in a partnership between Project Rhino and the Game Rangers Association of Africa, I worked with the K9 team and field rangers on various private reserves to assist them in improving integration and tactical capability. It was incredible seeing the eagerness and capabilities of these dogs and the rangers as they worked together as a single team in rugged terrain with very dense vegetation and numerous encounters with dangerous game. In every one of the complex scenario’s that we challenged the teams with, they very effectively tracked down the individuals that were acting as the suspects on the day. The close camaraderie and the dedication and commitment of the teams was also humbling and extremely encouraging to watch.
Please go across to the Project Rhino website and social media pages to see what these fund-raising initiatives are and please participate in these initiatives and continue to support the incredible work that Project Rhino is doing