On my most recent field trip, I spent time at the South African Wildlife College Dog Unit. Here they are training a variety dog of breeds to help tackle poaching and are also developing new operational procedures to improve effectiveness. Firstly though the dedication and care that the dog handling training team gives to their dogs is amazing and they need to be hugely complimented for all that they are doing.
While I am familiar with working with the Belgian Melanois, I was less familiar with the German Short-Haired Pointers and Fox Hounds that are used specifically for tracking purposes. It was incredible to watch how quickly these dogs managed to follow a spoor through difficult terrain where we battled to even see a spoor trail that had been left by one of the handlers. The absolute highlight was watching three Fox Hounds run a spoor trail of just over two kilometers. While the dog handler was given half an hour to lay the trail, it took the Fox Hounds just six minutes to find and catch him. This is a huge game-changer in the war against poaching and I would certainly not want to be out there with a pack of dogs and well-trained rangers on my tail!
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.