Last month, a group of highly-trained dogs patrolling Greater Kruger National Park thwarted the plans of poachers who are intent on wiping out the park’s endangered rhino population.
Each is trained in the arts of free tracking, incursion, detection, patrol and apprehension dogs. The dogs’ speed over the ground is an advantage in their daily activities, and their skills of tracking and apprehension are much sought after.
According to Johan van Straaten, a K9 trainer at the Southern African Wildlife College in Kruger, the dogs are thought to have saved 45 rhinos this year alone. The rate of success of the dogs is a little under 70%.
594 rhinos were killed in the park last year, with most being poached for their ivory tusks. Although that figure constitutes a year-on-year drop in the number of deaths since 2014, the fight is still ongoing.
Van Straaten hopes to continue his work with the dogs well into the future.