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.
Image Credit: Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Richard Vigne
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.
Kenya and South Africa have enthusiastically embraced sniffer dogs for increased security against poachers. These anti-poaching dogs together with the rangers are putting their lives on the line, covering an area of 360 square kilometers, where organized crime syndicates are using military equipment, and taking rhino and elephant poaching to a whole new level.
“This is a crisis that is driven primarily by demand for rhino horn and elephant ivory from the Far East. Despite the fact that it is made up of keratin, the same substance that makes up our finger nails, and has no medicinal properties whatsoever, rhino horn is used in traditional medicines to “cure” all sorts of ailments including fever, headaches and hangovers. The use of rhino horn in Vietnam, which is now the largest consumer of this commodity in the world, is seen as a status symbol that is used to seal business deals. Ivory by contrast is used mainly for the emerging middle class. As a result of demand for horn and ivory increasing so much in recent years, their market value now exceeds that of gold and cocaine. It is this price that is driving poor people in Africa and other parts of the world to poach elephants and rhinos,” explains Vigne.
Image Credit: Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Richard Vigne & Daryll Pleasants
A typical day for these dogs means going out each day for exercise and training. “Increasingly we are using them on anti-poaching operations both during the day and at night.” These brave anti- poaching dogs are fed with top of the range, expensive dog food imported form the UK. They also get meat and milk. Most of the dogs are approaching two years of age, with the exception of their original dog, Tarzan who is approximately five years old. Training starts when these pups are six months old. Pleasance adds that using dogs to fight the illegal rhino horn and elephant ivory trade is a new area for conservationists like himself. “We believe that properly trained and deployed dogs can act as a significant deterrent to poachers, as well as helping to cut costs of enforcing the security needed to protect the rhinos and elephants across Kenya.”
Some countries are seeing their elephant populations being reduced by as much as 50% in the last three years. Vigne explains that saving our wildlife worldwide will depend on our ability to curb demand in the Far East. “ Without that this war will continue and it will be lost in many countries across the African continent. Already some countries are seeing their elephant populations being reduced by as much as 50% in the last three years. The northern white rhino, of which Ol Pejeta holds the last remaining three potentially reproductive individuals, is on the point of extinction.”
Image Credit: Ol Pejeta Conservancy
To learn more about the best places to stay in Kenya, please visit: www.olpejetaconservancy.org/where-to-stay
Ol Pejeta needs your support done via Tusk Trust. To learn more about how you can support wildlife conservation, visit: www.olpejetaconservancy.org/support
White Paw Training
White Paw Dog Training in partnership with Ol Pejeta has developed ‘triple role dogs’ whose main role is to seek out a poaching scene rapidly, and then begin tracking the poachers. These dogs are able to disarm the poachers by attacking the arm that holds the weapon. All the dogs are capable of operating in the darkness, and one trained dog is able to do the work of a 70-person search team. Darryl Pleasants of White Paw Training works together with Ol Pejeta in their fight against poaching. This ten-year plan aims to provide the entire northern Kenya with trained handlers and dogs.
“I recognize every dog as an individual with individual needs. By following a tailored program my aim is simple: To gain results through kindness and a clear understanding of a dogs thinking and background whilst giving you as an owner the lifelong skills needed to affect positive change.” For more on this article, visit: Fido Friendly.
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