- Published Date
- Written by Dominic Wieners
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, in partnership with a number of donors, introduced tracking dogs into the Park in December 2015. Working Dogs are widely recognised as both a strong deterrent to rhino poaching but also a remarkable reactive tool for tracking poachers down.
The project was made possible through generous donations from WESSA Lowveld Region, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation and Duna Adventures, who donated funds towards the acquisition of the Tracking Dogs and the training of the Handlers. Hills Dog Food have committed to sponsoring the Dogs food for the rest of their working lives while Bayer Animal Health have pledged to assist with basic veterinary maintenance needs for 2016. ROGS, the canine equipment specialists, have sponsored leads, harnesses and collars.
The Handlers completed an intensive 3 week training course with their allocated Dogs onsite in iMfolozi Game Reserve. They will continue to receive training throughout the up and coming year, completing a total of 6 weeks of training.
The dogs are deployed in strategic positions within the Park, to be used for both proactive and reactive anti-poaching operations. The donated dogs, a German Shepard, named Gazelle, and a Bloodhound, named Gunner, have been trained to track humans exclusively as their main skill. Gazelle is also trained to assist in the actual apprehension of suspects while Gunner is a ferocious tracker who can track a suspect up to 24 hours after he or she has passed through an area. Completing the team is Levi, a German Short-Haired Pointer, who is owned by one of the Canine Unit Handlers.
From right to left: APU Officer Sibonelo Zulu with Gunner, Section Ranger Ian Pollard with Gazelle, and Conservation Ecologist Dave Druce with Levi
Patrick Sibeko, iMfolozi Game Reserve Conservation Manager, was very happy to see the Dogs arrival in HiP, “I am personally very excited about the prospects of having this new tool available to us. Field Rangers need all the support they can get and what is better than having man’s best friend at your-side?”Jabulani Ngubane, HiP Park Manager, was honest in his assessment of the Dogs and their role in rhino poaching, “There is no silver bullet for rhino poaching but working dogs have become synonymous with rhino security, and have been very successful in many conservation areas throughout Africa. Poaching incursions differ from case to case, and you require different tools in different situations. Dogs are now another tool in our toolbox“.
He continued, “I am extremely grateful to all our donors who have made this project possible. These partners understand the difficulties we face in the field and we truly appreciate their willingness to assist us in combating rhino poaching”
For further information with regards to the project, please contact Ian Pollard on firstname.lastname@example.org or 031 001 7557
Article from - http://www.kznwildlife.com/news-and-events/1264-hip-canine-unit-a-rangers-best-friend.html