K9’s form an integral part of a reserve’s overall protection strategy by assisting with tasks such as tracking, detecting snares and, in some cases, apprehension of suspects. They are respected by rural communities and are able to work in the darkness which is a cover most poachers use to hide in.
As a rapid response to a poaching incident, K9’s, like Sammi below, are used to track poachers. All K9’s undergo stringent testing to ensure that they are suitable for such a role. As is the case with domestic K9’s, the trainer also needs to be trained up and educated on proper handling techniques. Trainers are also subject to screening in order to determine that their personalities are suited to such a job, as it requires long hours in the field.
K9’s can be trained to pick up and track the scent of rhino horn in vehicles and luggage, detect firearms, and follow up on tracks and scent left by poachers. Both dog and trainer are put through rigorous training programs which not only equips them for the necessary tools to complete their tasks with a great deal of success but also ensure that a strong trustworthy bond is built between them. K9’s can also be used as part of regular anti-poaching patrols. There is no doubt that man’s best friend is a critical member of anti-poaching units and play a vital role in the protection of the species.
This is Ella, the cold-scent tracking dog. This project represents a partnership betweenWilderness Foundation Africa, Medivet Saving the Rhino (UK) and the Chipembere Rhino Foundation, in support of rhino protection. She is a beautiful Bloodhound Doberman cross with an amazing sense of smell which she can use to follow older tracks where poachers have been and gone. She has become an extra layer of protection that rhinos need to survive as a species.