Conservation Canines to Save our Species from illegal wildlife trade

Dr Andrew Taylor, EWT’s Wildlife in Trade Programme Manager, andrewt@ewt.org.za 

South Africa is blessed with exceptional wildlife and landscapes that attract tourists and boost our economy. Some of our country’s biggest drawcards, such as White and Black rhinos (which are Near Threatened and Critically Endangered, respectively on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species), the African Savannah Elephant (Endangered), and the African Lion (Vulnerable), play vital roles in our ecosystems while also bringing in valuable ecotourism income. However, these species are threatened by the global illegal wildlife trade (IWT), which is a major cause of population declines in some countries. With funding from the IUCN Save Our Species Rapid Action Grant and the European Union, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) aims to reduce IWT by preventing wildlife poaching. We use our Conservation Canines to achieve this by training and deploying them to detect wildlife products and track poachers.

Newly qualified dog handler trained at Genesis K9 Newly qualified dog handler trained to reduce poaching as part of the project funded by the IUCN Save Our Species Rapid Action Grant and the European Union.

This project is supported by IUCN Save Our Species and co-funded by the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.

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So far, we have deployed two tracking dogs in reserves and will soon be deploying a further four, including both tracking and detection dogs. We have also supported the full training of two new handlers and partial training for a third handler through our relationship with Genesis K9 Group. Furthermore, we provide ongoing support to these deployed dogs and the handlers who have recently completed their training to reinforce what they have learned.

Conservation Canine Nala, a three-year old Belgian Malinois recently deployed in the Eastern Cape. Nala is a tracking dog and works with anti-poaching teams to protect threatened species.

This project is supported by IUCN Save Our Species and co-funded by the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.

LATEST STORIES

Thanks to this grant, the EWT supports seven reserves that have many ecologically and economically important species threatened by poaching. We are taking a three-pronged approach that includes deploying freshly trained young Conservation Canines (trained in detection or tracking), training dog handlers who will be responsible for working with and looking after these dogs and supporting these dog-handler teams in these reserves to ensure they have what they need to work effectively.

Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Black Rhino is threatened by the illegal trade in rhino horn products. Photo credit: the african eye

The reserves we are assisting suffered income losses during the COVID-19 pandemic due to tourist travel bans, and we aim to support them through these hard economic times. Many reserves at risk of poaching use a variety of approaches to combat it, with anti-poaching field rangers commonly the first line of defence. Certified dog-handler teams can provide invaluable support to these teams on the ground in several ways. Our dogs either track poacher incursion routes within a reserve or provide a quick and reliable method for screening vehicles for concealed firearms or wildlife contraband.

So far, we have deployed two tracking dogs in reserves and will soon be deploying a further four, including both tracking and detection dogs. We have also supported the full training of two new handlers and partial training for a third handler through our relationship with Genesis K9 Group. Furthermore, we provide ongoing support to these deployed dogs and the handlers who have recently completed their training to reinforce what they have learned.

Conservation Canine Nala, a three-year old Belgian Malinois recently deployed in the Eastern Cape. Nala is a tracking dog and works with anti-poaching teams to protect threatened species.

This project is supported by IUCN Save Our Species and co-funded by the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the Endangered Wildlife Trust and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.

LATEST STORIES

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