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
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!
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 company was awarded a Gold Sabre in the Geographic Category for Africa for Paramount’s K9 Anti-Poaching Awareness Campaign.
SubmitThe launch of Paramount Group’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy has been voted the best communications campaign in Africa at the world’s top public relations events, held in London and Johannesburg.
The Sabre Awards together with the prestigious Holmes Report, the most highly ranked awards organisation for the PR industry globally, awarded a Gold Sabre in the Geographic Category for Africa for Paramount’s K9 Anti-Poaching Awareness Campaign. The award, selected from more than 2 000 entries, was made at a glittering awards ceremony on Tuesday 19 May in London.
The anti-poaching campaign also received the Gold Award for Media Relations at the 18th Annual Prism Awards, South Africa’s PR industry awards, held on 19 April at the Maslow Hotel in Johannesburg.
SubmitPublic relations agency Burson-Marsteller Africa supported Paramount Group for the successful launch of Paramount Group Anti-Poaching and K9 Training Academy, through a photo-led strategy, which delivered circulation figures of over 600 million unique visitors and nearly 640 million in readership. In just one week, this strategy resulted in over 450 articles published across the world, including Africa, North America, UK, Europe, Asia, The Middle East, South America and Australia.
Eric Ichikowitz, Global Marketing Director of Paramount Group, says: “All across Africa, rhino and elephant populations are under severe threat. In South Africa we are fighting a war against rhino poachers. Raising awareness of this scourge is an important element of the overall strategy to beat illegal poaching. We are grateful and humbled by the awards that we have received for our anti-poaching efforts. It is a great privilege to play a part in helping the protection of our wildlife, which is part of our African heritage, for future generations.”
SubmitAfter three years of active involvement by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and Paramount Group in anti-poaching activities, the Anti-Poaching Academy showcases the merits of up-skilling conservation officers with on-the-ground training and the impact effective K9 solutions can have in combating poaching activities across the continent.
One of the largest of its kind in Africa, the academy addresses the ever increasing need for training of conservation officers in anti poaching activities, wildlife contraband detection, specialist K9 solutions and ranger K9 handler training – all of which have proven success rates in combating and apprehending poachers and their activities.
The academy has been established to provide comprehensive training solutions to assist in curbing the current surge in rhino and elephant poaching. 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.
At a farm outside Rustenburg, a two-hour drive from Johannesburg, Lourens and her colleagues are training dogs with military discipline to track and tackle “poachers,” with staff dressed in protective gear that resembles a hefty snowsuit.
With her intense concentration and ferocious bite, Daisy is a perfect example of how effective dogs can be in the fight against poachers.
“She’s got this urgency to find a person,” Lourens, 22, says of the eager seven-month-old Belgian shepherd. “Some dogs just have instincts.”
Those instincts are invaluable. Daisy and other dogs like her are at the front line of South Africa’s war against rhino poaching.
The animal casualties make headlines in South Africa, home to the majority of the world’s rhinos, accompanied by photos of bloated, bullet-ridden and hornless carcasses. The South African government said this month that a record 1,215 rhinos were killed in 2014, up more than 20 per cent from 2013. There is demand for the animals’ horns, which are used in traditional Asian medicine.
“This is indeed very worrying,” Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said Thursday at a sombre press briefing on rhino poaching. “We therefore have to ensure that we continue to work together in stepping up all the measures that we have adopted.”
One of those measures is the use of dogs. They are now employed on the ground in Kruger National Park and at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport, where they chase down poachers and sniff out the wildlife contraband. It is estimated that there are approximately 100 dogs doing anti-poaching work across the country.
The idea, which took off a couple of years after the poaching epidemic escalated in 2008, was motivated by private companies already specializing in canine services. A dog trained in sniffing for explosives, for example, could easily be taught to detect the scent of a rhino horn.
The dogs are a rare success story. In the Kruger, South Africa’s largest park, Killer and his handler, Amos Mzimba, have caught some 40 poachers in four years, said Reynold Thakhuli, a national parks spokesman.
With such positive results, Thakhuli said the park plans to double the size of the anti-poaching dog program to 40 dogs by the end of 2015, with the goal of stationing them “to all gates and ranger posts” of the park.
Anti-poaching dogs are a trend seen across the continent — from Tanzania, where the dogs hunt elephant poachers, to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they track gorilla poachers — as demand for wildlife products grows.
“There have been a number of cases where seizures have been made that can be attributed to dogs,” said Julian Rademeyer, author of Killing for Profit, a book on the rhino horn industry. “I think it’s an important tool.”
Rademeyer says dogs have become instrumental in catching poachers at airports. “Poachers stuff hand luggage with rhino horn, covering it with toothpaste and shampoo to cover the stench of rot,” he said. “Dogs would still be able to sniff it out.”
Allister Gibbons, the manager of the canine unit at Mechem, a defence company based in South Africa, can’t say enough about the value of the animals to curb crime.
“There’s no machine, sniffer machine, that can work like a dog,” said Gibbons. “People are waking up.All of a sudden, people are seeing the value a dog can give.”
There are some drawbacks. For one, an anti-poaching dog can cost upward of $10,000, which becomes a pricey arrangement for the cash-strapped parks. (By comparison, a young park ranger is often paid less than $500 a month).
A dog also requires a proper trainer, who needs to be added to the payroll, as well as dog food and housing. Ultimately, the logistical legwork for a dog is sometimes just too much for the parks to handle.
Most of Gibbons’ dogs that are being used in parks have been put there with the help of non-profit organizations. (Paramount Group’s anti-poaching dog unit is also a non-profit).
And for the canine army to be truly effective, it has to be complemented by a robust police force that is persecuting all levels of the poaching syndicate.
That’s not happening. “The problem is most of the arrests taking place these days are low-level poachers,” said Rademeyer. “That’s not doing too much damage to the syndicates. The people who are arrested are cannon fodder.”
Still, at this stage, any anti-poaching help in South Africa is welcome.
Back at the farm, Lourens hopes Daisy will grow to be one of the K9 Academy’s brightest stars, perhaps one day even learning to rappel from a helicopter, like her older cousin Venom.