Between the ruthless poachers and their vulnerable prey stands a thin green line of extraordinary men and women, who daily risk their lives to protect wildlife and habitats – the rangers.
Individuals who become handlers are the elite of local community rangers. They undergo a rigorous screening process (including polygraph tests) followed by an intensive sixty-day SASSETA (Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority) accredited and independently accessed training course at a dedicated centre in South Africa. Here the rangers are also paired with their canines, with which they return to their home reserves.
Due to the very dangerous nature of their work, some choose to remain anonymous.
Canines for Africa breeds, trains and deploys highly specialized multi-role Wildlife Protection dogs. German, Dutch and Belgian Shepherds are trained to track human, firearm and ammunition scent, and to disable armed poachers, while Weimaraners are trained to search for live or dead animals (such as an elephant injured by a poacher, or an orphaned baby rhino) or for contraband (such as elephant tusks, rhino horn or pangolin scales). We also use various breeds of hound (and their crosses) for cold scent tracking, and spaniels in situations where these are the best option.
The Canines work very effectively at night, when most poachers are active. Where required they can track for many hours, can abseil from a helicopter, can lay in wait for a criminal, can protect their handler, and can apprehend a suspect.
The Training Centre
CSI works in collaboration with Conraad de Rosner, founder and director of K9 Conservation. The training centre is based at an undisclosed location outside Hoedspruit, in Limpopo province, South Africa, and lies about an hour from Kruger National Park.
It is here that we breed and train our dogs, and train rangers to become K9 handlers.. Around twenty canines are housed in the excellent kennel system at any one time, all in various stages of training
Some quotes that highlight the importance of anti-poaching K9 units:
“It takes a field ranger follow up from a 3 percent or 5 percent success rate to a 60, 70 or 80 percent success rate, using line dogs and free-tracking dogs.” Southern African Wildlife College, South Africa
“Over the past 10 months the canine units have successfully tracked and taken down over 90% of the poachers arrested in the Kruger National Park.” (SANParks official statement).
“The dogs were responsible for tracking down poachers with such success that they can certainly be identified as a factor in the huge reduction in poaching in Amboseli.” (Big Life Foundation, Kenya).
“I do think that anti-poaching units will never again work without a good tracking dog.” (Johan de Beer, Kruger National Park Anti Poaching K9 Unit).
Teams, created by our training associate Conraad, are regularly responsible for the capture of rhino, elephant, lion and pangolin poachers, and ‘lesser’ bush-meat poachers. The K9 units are becoming so successful that in some reserves it is estimated that 70% of the success achieved is as a result of the deterrent effect alone of the dogs. We at Canines for Africa have every confidence that our K9 teams will make a hugely significant difference to the amount of animals lost to poachers, if not the total eradication of poaching in our areas of operations.
Anti-poaching K9 Units are a relatively new tool in wildlife conservation. Their effectiveness is however becoming rapidly recognized and the demand for these extraordinary dogs is soaring.
In the ideal situation, the poacher will be stopped before he has committed his crime. But even if he is captured after the event, valuable information can be obtained about his co-criminals, leading to the arrest of those further up the hierarchy. In both scenarios, these extraordinarily effective Canine Units play their part in saving endangered species from extinction.
Our K9 units also save innocent human lives, by stemming the flow of poaching funds to murderous rebel groups.
In collaboration with Earth Comix, we have created the first in a series of graphic novels, to educate both children and adults on the challenges and solutions to wildlife conservation and counter-poaching. Each edition will focus on a different K94A unit, and will highlight a different endangered species.
Texas A&M University leads study abroad programmes for its students, who have visited our units under training in South Africa. Here the students learn first hand about conservation issues and solutions.
Canines for Africa has educational and outreach programmes aimed at teaching the fundamentals of wildlife appreciation and conservation to the general public.
Our Director Vianna is a sought-after speaker and enjoys educating both specialised groups and the general public on the role of Canines for Africa in conservation.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Canines for Africa aids directly in these four Goals:
By providing training that leads to improved employment opportunities, it also touches on these Goals: