Dogs are wonderful animals who can be used for different jobs. In South Africa, there is one group of dogs trained in protecting wildlife, who have managed to guard 45 rhinos against poachers.
These dogs have been trained since they were puppies, and they’re more than capable of handling the pressures of their missions. The group of dogs is a mix of breeds – ranging from bloodhounds to beagles. They’re all vital members of the anti-poaching K9 fast response unit. And, according to a report, they received their training at the Southern African Wildlife College in Greater Kruger National Park.
They received their training from K9 Master Johan van Straaten and Cape Town-based photographer Sean Viljoen, who shared pictures of the dogs in action within the South African Wildlife College.
Johan van Straaten said, “The data we collect for this applied learning project aimed at informing best practice, shows we have prevented approximately 45 rhino being killed since the free tracking dogs became operational in February 2018.”
Johan stated that the dogs’ success rate was about 68% in the areas patrolled by the South African Wildlife College patrol. Johan believes that the real difference has been the free tracking dogs who are able to track at speeds much faster than any human.
“Over the past decade over 8,000 rhinos have been lost to poaching making it the country hardest hit by this poaching onslaught. The project is helping ensure the survival of southern Africa’s rich biodiversity and its wildlife including its rhino which has been severely impacted by wildlife crime,” explained Johan according to DailyMail.
South Africa faces a huge poaching problem since 80% of the world’s rhino population lives in South Africa. Over the past few decades, more than 8,000 rhinos have been hunted and killed by rhinos – and South Africa has been one of the hardest-hit countries.
According to the WWF, African rhinos are now classified as critically endangered, given that only a little over 5,000 rhinos remain out in the wild. However, there still remains a little glimmer of hope. Since 2015, the “Save the Rhino” charity has documented a downward turn of rhino deaths. Hopefully the turn will continue and the rhinos can make a comeback.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.