World First: Canine Power To Protect Pangolins

Johannesburg. 19 June 2018. The African Pangolin Working Group and the Ichikowitz Family Foundation today announced a strategic partnership that will, for the first time, see the training and deployment of specialist Pangolin detection dogs, and the establishment of a Pangalorium that will provide critical support in the fight to protect Pangolins – the most trafficked and hunted mammals in the world.

The Pangolin holds the undesired title of being the most poached and illegally trafficked mammal in the world. It is estimated that since 2000 more than one million pangolins have been traded illegally internationally.

The African Pangolin Working Group recently published a report which shows the shocking increase in illegal trade of Pangolins across Africa.  According to their reports 21 kg of Pangolin scales were traded in 2011, rising exponentially to 46,809 kg in 2017. The last 12 months has seen an alarming increase of more than 100% in the illegal trade in scales from 19599 kg in 2016 to current levels.

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which has a strong track record of conservation leadership within Africa, will provide the African Pangolin Working Group with the following critical support as part of their partnership to bolster the efforts to save Pangolins from extinction:

  • In a world first, specialist anti-poaching dogs are being trained to work with Pangolins. The Ichikowitz Foundation will be donating two Pangolin detection dogs which will be deployed at places of entry in South Africa e.g. ports and borders, and in the wild for monitoring and research purposes
  • The establishment of a purpose-built Pangalorium, consisting of suitable land and infrastructure, a research and treatment centre and staff accommodation

Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation said: “We are extremely excited and privileged to expand our conservation programmes through our partnership with the African Pangolin Working Group. Poaching in Africa is no longer just a conservation issue. It is a security issue that threatens the stability and social fabric of the continent. Just as illegal trade in rhino horn and ivory are funding criminal activities from terrorism, to drug and human trafficking, the rapidly increasing illegal trade in Pangolins poses a significant threat to Africa’s security. We cannot idly standby and allow this to happen.”

Professor Ray Jansen of Tshwane University of Technology, a leading Zoologist and Pangolin expert who is also the Chairman of the African Pangolin Working Group said: “Africa has very recently become a hot-spot for the poaching and trade in its four Pangolin species as the four species in Asia have dwindled to such an extent they are very hard and almost impossible to source.

“Pangolin scales are used as a powdered ingredient in over 50 different commercial traditional Chinese remedies. The demand for these scales has reached epic proportions and this year alone we have noted 45 tonnes of scales being shipped to Asia; this represents approximately 10% of the actual trade that remains undetected.”

Eric Ichikowitz, Director of the Ichikowitz Foundation said: “We are training a number of Pangolin detection dogs that are uniquely trained on the scent of these scales and the body odour of Pangolins in an attempt to intercept these smuggling operations. These dogs have the capability of not only detecting Pangolins but also very small quantities of scales stored or hidden in vehicles, buildings or shipping containers.

“In addition to the training and deployment of these dogs, our partnership will also construct a Pangolarium; a facility to house, care and rehabilitate compromised Pangolins intercepted from the illegal trade. This structure provides a base for these Pangolins where they will receive medical care and undergo a rehabilitation programme until they are strong enough to be released again.”

Commenting on the need for a Pangalorium, Professor Jansen said: “The Pangalorium will provide a safe haven from where Pangolins will be re-introduced back into the wild. Most animals arrive in a very poor state of health when they are brought to us. Many are caught in snares with horrific wounds and injuries. Electric fences are another source of the death and injuries. The Pangolins which are intercepted are experiencing high stress levels and they don’t eat or drink easily. They have challenging dietary requirements that are very specific e.g. they only eat termites from a specific region or area. We will also provide the Pangolins with telemetry equipment when they are healthy and ready to be released, so that we can monitor them closely during this period.”

The vast majority of Pangolin trade from Africa emanates from West and Central Africa. Countries that have been identified as hot spots include Uganda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Cameroon. The bulk of the trade in Southern Africa and South Africa is not in scales but in live Temminck’s ground pangolins.

Eric Ichikowitz added: “It is near impossible to find Pangolins in the wild. In addition to intercepting smuggling operations, the dogs that we are training will also be deployed to physically track down Pangolins in the wild for research and monitoring purposes. The dogs will play a crucial role in helping to collect critical data for the researchers, from the size of the pangolin’s territory, their dietary requirements and behavioral patterns.

“Another area where we will be assisting the African Pangolin Working Group is around the breeding biology of Pangolins which remain largely unrecorded. In order to assist in this particular field of research our Foundation will be making available a safe piece of land where the researchers are going to release a pair of Pangolins in the hope that they will breed.”

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation’s other anti-poaching initiatives include the donation of surveillance aircraft to national parks, the provision of combat training programmes to strengthen the capabilities of counter-poaching units, and the creation of one of the largest Anti-Poaching and K9 Training Academy’s in Africa, based in South Africa’s Magaliesberg mountains.

The Academy has been established to provide comprehensive training solutions to assist in curbing the current surge in poaching of endangered species across the continent. These solutions include specialised anti-poaching reaction unit training, training of handlers and detection dogs at points of access to game reserves and borders, tracking dogs for field rangers, and training special operation dogs for rapid deployment teams, among others.

Waging war on the poaching trade

Waging war on the poaching trade: Hero DOGS skydiving 7,500ft out of helicopters into danger zones to snare hunters slaughtering elephants and rhinos in the African bush

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3989318/DOGS-skydiving-7-500ft-danger-zones-snaring-poachers.html#ixzz53qzWBM4C

Conservationists waging war on the multi-million pound poaching trade have employed a new breed of operatives to help them catch criminals.

Equipped with goggles, harnesses, muzzles and earmuffs, dogs are being trained to skydive from 7,500ft into danger zones and snare poachers.

Giant, Killer, Venom, Arrow and Alpha are highly-skilled and fearless members of the Paramount Group Anti-Poaching and Canine Training Academy in South Africa.

Described by their trainers as ‘the Bear Grylls of the K9 world’, Arrow the German Shepherd became the first dog to skydive – earning him a place in the Guinness World Records – while Belgian Malinois Killer has snared 115 groups of poachers and received a Gold medal from Prince Harry for his contribution to conservation.

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Alpha the German Shepherd dons his protective eye and footwear ahead of missions which see him leap out of helicopters

Alpha the German Shepherd dons his protective eye and footwear ahead of missions which see him leap out of helicopters

Dog handler Henry and Arrow the dog - wearing his protective goggles and muzzle - landing safely after another successful sky dive

Dog handler Henry and Arrow the dog – wearing his protective goggles and muzzle – landing safely after another successful sky dive

A dog handler and their K9 in their Ghillie suits which the handler has to make themselves as part of the training, for camouflage and ambush purposes

A dog handler and their K9 in their Ghillie suits which the handler has to make themselves as part of the training, for camouflage and ambush purposes

Henry and Arrow on their very first sky dive: Each dog is individually assessed as a puppy to find the role best suited to themHenry and Arrow on their very first sky dive: Each dog is individually assessed as a puppy to find the role best suited to them

A spokesman for the academy told MailOnline: ‘The most critical element for a successful dog and handler is the bond between the two.

‘The bond is critical and you cannot break it.

‘Only highly driven dogs with an exceptional attitude, mindset and passion to please (their handlers) can be used for activities like rappelling and sky diving.’

Poaching is a lucrative and ever-growing industry run by highly-organised criminal networks.

The last seven years have seen the elephant population fall by almost a third – with 100 killed every single day for their ivory.

Rhino poaching has reached epidemic proportions with around 1200 rhinos being killed in 2014 and 2015 in South Africa alone.

So conservationists are fighting back and taking increasingly drastic measures to counteract illegal poaching.

Poaching hotspots are often in remote locations or dense bush and the dogs’ skydiving skills enable them to reach areas quickly and track skilled poachers using advanced counter-tracking techniques.

The dogs are capable of searching large areas for snares, bush meat and firearms and are able to hunt at night when human trackers are unable to track due to limited visibility.

Arrow, a German Shepherd dog specially trained to combat Africa¿s poaching crisis, has been recognized as the world¿s first sky-diving anti-poaching dog by Guinness World Records

Arrow, a German Shepherd dog specially trained to combat Africa’s poaching crisis, has been recognized as the world’s first sky-diving anti-poaching dog by Guinness World Records

Two-year-old Arrow made his maiden jump with handler Henry Holsthyzen of Paramount Group¿s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy based in Rustenburg, South Africa

Two-year-old Arrow made his maiden jump with handler Henry Holsthyzen of Paramount Group’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy based in Rustenburg, South Africa

The dogs are taught to parachute out of helicopters and into danger zones in a bid to stamp out illegal poaching

The dogs are taught to parachute out of helicopters and into danger zones in a bid to stamp out illegal poaching

Alpha is part of the team of hero hounds leaping from helicopters along with their trainers in a bid to tackle illegal poachers

Alpha is part of the team of hero hounds leaping from helicopters along with their trainers in a bid to tackle illegal poachers

Skydiving has become an important addition to the arsenal of anti-poaching methods, especially useful as a rapid response in remote and inaccessible areas

Skydiving has become an important addition to the arsenal of anti-poaching methods, especially useful as a rapid response in remote and inaccessible areas

Arrow and Henry with their Guinness World Record: The trainers said, 'You need an expert eye, someone with ¿dog whisperer¿ capabilities and decades of working and training dogs to ensure you get it right'

Arrow and Henry with their Guinness World Record: The trainers said, ‘You need an expert eye, someone with ‘dog whisperer’ capabilities and decades of working and training dogs to ensure you get it right’

Arrow and Giant 'go mad with excitement' when they are shown their jump harnesses and cannot wait to get into the helicopter

Arrow and Giant ‘go mad with excitement’ when they are shown their jump harnesses and cannot wait to get into the helicopter

A simulation of a poacher apprehension show how the dogs and their handlers - both wearing Ghillie camouflage suits hand made by each park ranger/dog handler - hide in the bush as the poachers walk straight into their ambush

A simulation of a poacher apprehension show how the dogs and their handlers – both wearing Ghillie camouflage suits hand made by each park ranger/dog handler – hide in the bush as the poachers walk straight into their ambush

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation will work with Gabons National Parks to establish an anti-poaching rapid response task force which includes the donation of a Gazelle helicopter and K9 units

Poachers, look out: Several dogs from the unit and their handlers practice doing bite work training

Poachers, look out: Several dogs from the unit and their handlers practice doing bite work training

The two most commonly used breeds in conservation are Bloodhounds and Belgium Malinois.

While Bloodhounds are used to track scents older than 24 hours, the Malinois is used as a rapid reaction and a ‘multi-purpose’ K9, capable of tracking and searching for ammunition, rhino horns and ivory, and for arresting suspects.

The academy breeds the dogs before gauging their personality and matching them to suitable roles – from tracking to skydiving.

The academy spokesman added: ‘You need an expert eye, someone with ‘dog whisperer’ capabilities and decades of working and training dogs to ensure you get it right.

‘Not all dogs are good at tracking, not all dogs are excited by the sight of a helicopter.

‘In Arrow and Giant’s case they go mad with excitement if you only show them their jump harnesses. They cannot wait to get into the helicopter.

‘You can tell by their reaction that they are keen and willing, and when you see them in action you can tell that they excel at it.’

Dogs are bred by the academy and their personality gauged at an early age - to find out whether they would be suited to tracking, or jumping from helicopters

Dogs are bred by the academy and their personality gauged at an early age – to find out whether they would be suited to tracking, or jumping from helicopters

'The Bear Grylls¿ of the K9 world': Working alongside their trainers, the dogs are waging war on elephant and rhino poachers

‘The Bear Grylls’ of the K9 world’: Working alongside their trainers, the dogs are waging war on elephant and rhino poachers

A poacher is apprehended by a K9 with its handler while other members of the K9 units in hot pursuit

A poacher is apprehended by a K9 with its handler while other members of the K9 units in hot pursuit

Reaching new heights: Venom and his handler can be seen rappeling from a Gazelle helicopter

Reaching new heights: Venom and his handler can be seen rappeling from a Gazelle helicopter

A handler and a dog prepare to disembark a helicopter in a dam - and thanks to the dogs incredible senses, poachers in remote areas will be quickly apprehended

A handler and a dog prepare to disembark a helicopter in a dam – and thanks to the dogs incredible senses, poachers in remote areas will be quickly apprehended

The rapid response anti-poaching unit using a helicopter to drop dog units into a dam and follow a poacher

The rapid response anti-poaching unit using a helicopter to drop dog units into a dam and follow a poacher

Skydiving has become an important addition to the arsenal of anti-poaching methods, especially useful as a rapid response in remote and inaccessible areas.

Initially met with some resistance from those who failed to see dogs useful in the war against poachers, the first K9 was introduced to Kruger National Park in South Africa in December 2010 to help fight poaching.

Now almost all big reserves have a K9 unit assisting their anti-poaching units (APU) and since the launch of Paramount Group’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy there has been a rise in national parks and private reserves establishing K9 units in parks across Africa.

And in another shot to the arm of the group, Arrow the German Shepherd dog has been recognised as the world’s first sky-diving anti-poaching dog by Guinness World Records.

Two-year-old Arrow made his maiden jump with handler Henry Holsthyzen at the Waterkloof Airforce Base on the outskirts of Pretoria.

Arrow was specially selected as a puppy for his temperament and trained to descend from a helicopter by rope, strapped to Holsthyzen, and finally, to skydive.

The poaching trade is decimating the elephant and rhino population, with some 695 rhinos lost to poachers in 2014, and 100 elephants killed everyday for their ivory The poaching trade is decimating the elephant and rhino population, with some 695 rhinos lost to poachers in 2014, and 100 elephants killed everyday for their ivory

As soon as Arrow touches down from the skydive his handler releases him from his jump harness and Arrow is immediately on the spoor of the poacher

As soon as Arrow touches down from the skydive his handler releases him from his jump harness and Arrow is immediately on the spoor of the poacher

The team of German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois dogs are highly trained in tracking - and taking down - poachers hiding in the bush

The team of German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois dogs are highly trained in tracking – and taking down – poachers hiding in the bush

The Paramount group showcases an integrated anti-poaching operation involving helicopters, ground vehicles and K9 units

The Paramount group showcases an integrated anti-poaching operation involving helicopters, ground vehicles and K9 units

Arrow’s entry to the Guinness World Records came after months of intense preparation. Since Arrow was a puppy he and Holsthyzen have eaten, slept, and worked together in order to develop the inseparable bond needed to carry out high-pressure anti-poaching tasks together.

Holsthyzen said: ‘With my knowledge of Arrow – knowing him, and knowing his personality – it gave me a very good idea of what to expect and he acted accordingly. He’s a natural born skydiver and an adrenaline junkie – I was more scared than he was!

‘I jumped out of the helicopter and it was just natural for him to follow me. I rely on him and in turn he relies on me. I’m willing to go into battle with him because I trust him. Trust forms the basis of our relationship and that enables the handler and the K9 relationship to excel’.

Eric Ichikowitz, Director of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation added: ‘In some cases we have to insert the canine into a difficult situation with the poachers or a challenging environment, such as a forest or mountainous regions. The parachute helps engage them quietly.

‘At any one stage we have a large number of K9’s at various stages of development enabling us to develop on each K9’s unique capabilities as identified and tracked from infancy through adolescence. The large pool enables us to select optimal pairings between handlers and dogs, and to experiment with combinations.

‘The training protocols have been developed through experience gained in operational environments, working in close conjunction with a number of National Parks special operations units. The training school is a custom developed anti-poaching facility developed to train anti-poaching rangers into specialised K9 handlers and to engage the handlers in the protocols of working with dogs in a wildlife environment’.

Students complete K9 Anti-Poaching Course

Congratulations to our latest group of students who have completed the Anti-Poaching K9 and handler course at our Anti-Poaching Training and K9 Academy. The twelve week course covers various disciplines including Man tracking / K9 Tracking, First Aid, Camouflage, Observation points, K9 Bite Work and K9 Obedience.

To find out how you could become a qualified and experienced K9 handler or improve your skills as a ranger in the fight against poaching please contact us

Bloodhound catches five poachers

One bloodhound that we bred and trained, Diesel, has recently been deployed to protect rhinos at a rhino orphanage. Not long after arriving Diesel was responsible for catching five would be rhino poachers.  Diesel did an amazing job by tracking the poachers for more than 10 kilometres and took the rangers straight into the poacher’s bush camp. A proud moment for us and Diesel!

Are these skydiving dogs poachers’ worst enemies?

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Meet Arrow and his handler, Henry Holtshyzen. Harnessed together, they take off across the vast wildlife preserve.

Arrow seems unperturbed, even as they hurl themselves out of the helicopter, falling more than 6,000 feet to earth — and landing in the middle of the poaching wars.

patta-skydiving-dogs-4-2017-3-9.jpg

Henry Holtshyzen and Arrow jump out of an airplane to take on poachers.

CBS NEWS

“Getting the dog to the frontlines as fast as possible is always a challenge and parachuting and rappelling is one of the ways of getting dog boots on the ground where they are needed,” Holtshyzen says.

These elite dogs are trained to immediately sniff out the poacher, rushing to attack, pinning the poacher to the ground until more help arrives.

This may be a training exercise, but the dog’s bites are real — and special bite-proof suits are needed.

patta-skydiving-dogs-3-2017-3-9.jpg

Henry Holtshyzen is a handler for Arrow, a dog trained to sniff out poachers and pin the poacher to the ground until more help arrives.

CBS NEWS

The dogs are up against up against highly-trained, heavily-armed poachers who run a multimillion-dollar industry trading in elephant and rhino horn. In the past seven years, a third of Africa’s elephants have been wiped out.

Nearly 100 of these sky diving dogs have been placed in game reserves across Africa by the Paramount K9 anti-poaching group. In one region, they caught more than 100 poachers in 18 months. Holtshyzen told us one dog, Killer, nabbed more poachers than rangers equipped with the latest high tech weapons.

patta-skydiving-dogs-2017-3-9.jpg

Henry Holtshyzen and Arrow are dropping 6,000 feet to earth to catch poachers.

CBS NEWS

“That is the most effective tool against poaching ever used and it’s low technology, it’s low cost compared to other technologies. And it works,” Holtshyzen says.

Man’s best friend may turn out to be a poacher’s worst enemy.

 

Gabon Gets Anti-Poaching Helicopter From South African Group

JOHANNESBURG — A South African foundation is providing a helicopter and other anti-poaching equipment to Gabon, whose forest elephants have been heavily targeted by traffickers.

The Ichikowitz Family Foundation said Thursday that it will also provide ranger training and establish a dog-training academy program in Gabon. The announcement was made during a Johannesburg meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES.

In a statement, the foundation and Gabon’s national parks agency praise Gabon’s president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, for efforts to protect the Congo basin rainforest.

The foundation’s founder, Ivor Ichikowitz, heads the Paramount Group, a company that previously provided defense equipment to Gabon.

Bongo was sworn in Tuesday for a second seven-year term after winning a narrow victory in a disputed election.

AFRICAN Independent – K9 commandos unleashed

At a secret training camp called Battle Creek, in the bush, two hours from Johannesburg, dogs and handlers are being trained in using Special Forces techniques to try to stem the tide of poaching that has seen thousands of rhinos and other endangered animals killed in South Africa and other African countries.

Handlers and their dogs are also trained to go on foot patrols for up to three days carrying their own food and water, and hide in the bush wearing military ghillie suits to help catch poachers. Each dog and handler share a sleeping bag at night.

An initiative of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, the military-style training camp lasts three months and sees the dogs and handlers bonding as they learn the art of anti-poaching warfare together.

With names like Venom, Killer, Alpha and Delta, the dogs are either Belgium Malinois or Germany Shepherds and are chosen from litters of puppies bred at Battle Creek.

It is estimated that 400 canine units are needed in South Africa’s game reserves alone and the training camp has about 50 dogs and 40 puppies at the moment.

With no end in sight for the rhino and other wild animals being killed by poachers for their hugely profitable horns, the fight against poachers will continue and it is hoped that “man’s best friend” and their handlers can play an influential role in stemming the tide of poaching.

Source: http://www.africanindy.com/features/k9-commandos-unleashed-5248425

Caption GOTCHA: Two dogs attack a man posing as a poacher, during an anti-poaching training exercise at the Battle Creek K9 training facility near Rustenburg, South Africa. The secret training camp is located in the African bush, two hours from Johannesburg.

Pictures: Kim Ludbrook

Caption DARING: A former special forces soldier and now anti-poaching dog handler jumps out of a helicopter with his dog into a shallow dam while trying to nab a suspected poacher.

Caption STEALTHY: Instructor Elliot Moseselane, 32, lies in the bush in a sniper ghillie suit with his dog, Alpha, during a simulated ambush during training at Battle Creek.

Caption CLOSE BOND: Instructor and dog handler Lucas Mosana, right, and with his dog, Delta, and another instructor and his dog sleep together in oversized sleeping bags in the bush during a night-time training exercise at the Battle Creek K9 training facility.

Caption READY FOR ACTION: Dog handler Elliot Moseselane and Alpha show off their sniper ghillie attire at the Battle Creek K9 training facility outside Johannesburg.

Caption SHOWING HOW IT’S DONE: A dog attacks an instructor while students and other instructors look on during an anti-poaching training exercise at Battle Creek.

Caption FORMIDABLE TEAM: Instructor Elliot Moseselane in the bush with his dog, Alpha, during a simulated ambush at the Battle Creek K9 training facility in South Africa. Both are wearing sniper ghillie suits.

Caption PLAYTIME: Assistant puppy instructor Johannes Moremi plays with 4-month old Belgian Malinois puppies at the K9 training facility. The litter of seven puppies play for 30 minutes a day in the special area that mimics what the dogs will do as adult dogs during their training.

News24.com – Tracker dog praised as two poachers convicted

News24 Correspondent

Mbombela – A magistrate in Mpumalanga has praised a Belgian Malinois dog that successfully tracked two poachers, resulting in their conviction.

Andolino Mulcube, 20, and Jermano Tive, 20, appeared in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Tuesday. They were convicted of killing a white rhino in the Kruger National Park on January 19, 2013.

The two accused were arrested after a South African National Parks ranger and his dog successfully tracked them. They had found a dead rhino with its horn hacked off in the N’wanetsi area in Kruger National Park.

Although no horns were found in their possession, the men were linked through circumstantial evidence to two white rhino horns found about a kilometre away from their hideout.

Killer, South Africa's most successful poacher-catching canine, barks in his cage in the Kruger National Park. (Stefan Heunis, AFP)
Killer, South Africa’s most successful poacher-catching canine, barks in his cage in the Kruger National Park. (Stefan Heunis, AFP)

The dog, called Killer, was originally used by Belgian authorities to track explosives.

His trainer, Henry Holsthyzen, head of the canine anti-poaching academy at Paramount Group, which supplies working dogs to rangers in the park, had told the court previously that Killer’s mother had been bred from two well-known Belgian police dogs.

Killer was used by Belgian authorities to track specific explosives. But there was a bounty on his head and people wanted him killed.

Killer was put into an exchange programme and was brought to South Africa for his own protection.

Holsthyzen had told the court that Killer was introduced to Kruger at an early age.

He had bonded with a tracker, who cannot be named for protection purposes.

– News24 Showcase: The poachers fear the dogs, and the dogs fear the leopards

Passing judgment magistrate Edward Hall said evidence was that on the day of the incident rangers had heard gunshots. Killer and two trackers followed the sounds.

On the way they found blood, a rhino carcass and spoor.

Killer’s handler had testified that the horns seized were freshly cut. This was evident because they still had blood on them. They were from a white rhino.

Hall said Killer and his handler followed the spoor. Killer found the first suspect hiding in shrubs, a kilometre from the carcass.

He said three human spoors were identified, but Killer and his handler managed to catch only two men.

The suspects had told rangers that their accomplice had run away and taken the firearm with him.

State prosecutor Isabet Erwee had asked the court to consider what the law states about trackers.

“Trackers and dogs are recognised in courts in the manner they are trained and perform. The court can accept their version,” Hall said.

The case was postponed to Friday for sentencing.

– News24 Showcase: Law and order