K9 Fast Response Unit Has Saved 45 Rhinos From Poachers Over Two years Of Service


There are many reasons dogs are called man’s best friends. They’re loyal and smart, but endlessly childish and sometimes dorky and, most importantly, they always have your back even in the hardest of times.

This K9 fast response unit operating in South Africa always has the backs of their humans when fighting poachers and protecting wildlife, and even do a much better job than their humans. Turns out, in the areas where the Southern African Wildlife College patrol, the success rate of the dogs is around 68 percent, compared to only between three to five percent success rate when there are no doggos around.

A group of dogs have been trained to protect wildlife since they were puppies

Image credits: Caters

Turns out, Southern African Wildlife College in Greater Kruger National Park has a K9 fast response unit that is trained to protect wildlife. All kinds of dogs, from beagles to bloodhounds, begin their training there when they’re still just small puppies and grow up to be a great help for park rangers.

They’ve already saved 45 rhinos in South Africa from being poached

Image credits: Caters

No breed is too small for the K9 fast response unit—the group of dogs range from beagles to bloodhounds

Image credits: Caters

Johan van Straaten, a “K9 Master” at the college, said: “The data we collect for this applied learning project, aimed at informing best practice, shows we have prevented approximately 45 rhinos being killed since the free tracking dogs became operational in February 2018.”

“K9 Master” Johan van Straaten from Southern African Wildlife College in Greater Kruger National Park trains the dogs to handle all kinds of pressure

Image credits: Caters

Their mission is very important, since South Africa holds 80% of the world’s rhino population

Image credits: Caters

“In the areas where the Southern African Wildlife College patrol, the success rate of the dogs is around 68 percent using both on and off-leash free tracking dogs, compared to between three to five percent with no canine capacity,” van Straaten said. “The game-changer has been the free tracking dogs who are able to track at speeds much faster than a human can, in terrain where the best human trackers would lose spoor.”

“In the areas where the Southern African Wildlife College patrol, the success rate of the dogs is around 68 percent using both on and off leash free tracking dogs,” said van Straaten

Image credits: Caters

He also stated that patrols with no canine capacity only have a success rate of three to five percent

Image credits: Caters

Van Straaten said they train Texan black-and-tan coonhounds, Belgian Malinois, foxhounds and blue ticks skills that benefit counter-poaching initiatives—free tracking, incursion, detection, patrol, and apprehension dogs. “They begin training from birth and are socialized from a very young age. They learn how to track, bay at a person in a tree, and follow basic obedience,” he explained.

“The game changer has been the free tracking dogs who are able to track at speeds much faster than a human can, in terrain where the best human trackers would lose spoor,” he said

Image credits: Caters

Turns out, South Africa is the country hit hardest by rhino poachers, so there’s no better place for such a project to take place

Image credits: Caters

“At six months we put all that training together more formally—they do have the necessary skill set to do the work at a younger age, but are not mature enough to handle all the pressures of real operations. Depending on a number of factors, dogs become operational at around 18 months old.”



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