The Mission of Canines for Africa is to halt the demise of endangered species of wildlife in Africa and around the world.
Through the training of specialized dogs and their ranger-handlers, creating elite and highly effective Wildlife Protection Canine Units, we help protect vulnerable animals from annihilation by poachers.
In conjunction with this work, we have educational programs - from pre-school to university - aimed at teaching the fundamentals of wildlife appreciation and conservation to the next generation
Between the ruthless poachers and their vulnerable prey stands a thin green line of extraordinary men, who daily risk their lives to protect wildlife and habitats – the rangers.
Individuals who chose, and are selected by us, to 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 our 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 other breeds such as spaniels and hounds 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.
“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).
These are just three quotes from a multitude that highlight the importance of anti-poaching K9 units.
In a recent period of seventy days, teams trained by our Chief of Operations Conraad were responsible for the capture of five rhino poachers, two lion poachers and ten ‘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 not only help save animals, but also countless innocent human lives - the kidnapping, torture, rape or murder of whom is funded by poaching.
Canines for Africa has partnered with the American educational organisation Ten Directions, to bring international college students to South Africa for a month-long, in-depth induction to wildlife, conservation and ecosystem management, along with social responsibility and the culture and history of local indigenous populations.
One week of the programme will involve the students living with families in an African village, where they must develop and fund a micro-finance project to aid the villagers.
Another week will see the students undergoing rigorous 'ranger' instruction at the compound of our partner Nkwe Tactical Training Academy.
The rest of the course will be held at one of our centres, in partnership with the Molotele People’s Association. Each student is issued his or her own dog for the duration for the course, during which they undergo instruction in K9 handling, survival, hunting skills, anti-poaching methods and wildlife and habitat management.
At the other end of the spectrum, Canines for Africa is in the final stage of formalising an agreement with the Will Smith Zoo School, the largest nature-based kindergarten in the US, which educates pre-schoolers on the joys of nature, wildlife, and their preservation.
In collaboration with Earth Comix, we have created the first in a series of comic books, 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 anti-poaching unit, and on a different endangered species.