One instance of humans thinking that they overpower nature is their total disregard for the wildlife. The South African wildlife is rich in diversity as well as uniqueness, and therefore stands out as a paradise for poachers. Among the many wildlife that is subject to poaching, the rhino takes a special place because 80% of the world rhino population is in South Africa. Sadly, more than 8000 South African rhinos have been killed during the past 10 years.
Although there are many government imposed rules and regulations regarding poaching, poachers continue to disobey these rules and kill these rare animals. However, the negative side to these rules and regulations is that they can be used to punish poachers if and once they kill a rhino. By then, we have lost another rhino that can’t be brought back to life.
So, as a measure that has immediate effect, South African conservationists have started using a pack of specially trained dogs to hunt down poachers.
The dog breeds used for this task include Belgian Malinois, Foxhounds, Blue Ticks, Texan Black-and-Tan Coonhounds. Selected at birth and trained in incursion, detection, patrol and free tracking, these dogs are put to work at around 18 months. The breed and training of these dogs let them run at a fast speed on hard paths.
Johan van Straaten is Cape Town based K9 Master that is part of this project. According to him, the usual success rate of catching poachers is very much low, between 3-5%. However, the use of these trained dogs shows promising results where poachers are caught and rhinos are saved 68% of the time.