Dogs Take on War with Rhino Poachers in Africa
Deep in the African veld there is a desperate struggle to put an end to rampant poaching.
By Claudia Bensimoun
More than 1000 rhinos were illegally massacred in South Africa in 2014. ‘Triple-role’ sniffer dogs that are trained as anti-poaching dogs, together with their handlers, who are often wildlife conservationists, are trying to save some of the world’s most endangered species at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The increasing demand in Asia for rhino horn and elephant tusks are responsible for these massacres.
In Kenya, thanks to White Paw Limited and the deployment of wildlife sniffer dogs, approximately 35 animals were lost last year, or 3% of the population. “We have done quite well to curb poaching, but it has come at a huge cost in terms of manpower and resources. Kenya has also been really successful at curbing poaching of elephants, and is leading the way in Africa on this,” explains Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya. Today Ol Pejeta Conservancy strives to protect all endangered species in Kenya. Situated between the foothills of the Aberdares and the magnificent snow-capped Mount Kenya, this non-profit wildlife conservancy supports endangered species, tourism and community outreach. It is now the largest Black Rhino sanctuary in East Africa, and is also home to southern white rhino’s, and the critically endangered northern white rhino.
Meet Richard Vigne and Daryll Pleasants! White Paw Limited, a UK based company owned by Daryll Pleasance, whose goal is to develop ‘triple role dogs’ and ultimately put an end to poaching. Vigne adds, “These are animals with a variety of skills. Dogs are actually a new area for conservationists such as myself. We believe that properly trained and deployed dogs can act as a significant deterrent to poachers, as well as helping us to cut the costs of enforcing the security needed to protect rhinos and elephants across this part of Kenya.”
“Dogs are trained under the supervision of White Paw Limited, a UK based company owned by Daryll Pleasance. We aim to develop so-called ‘triple role dogs’—these are animals with a variety of skills including trackers, search (ivory, rhino horn, ammunition, explosives,) patrol and assault,” explains Pleasance. The Black Rhino is extremely endangered, and conservationists are doing all they can to protect these ‘valuable’ animals from extinction.