A pack of dogs are trained to protect wildlife in South Africa. So far, they have already saved 45 rhinos from poachers – a big win for wildlife conservation.

The dogs, which include a Texan Black-and-Tan Coonhounds, Belgian Malinois, Foxhounds and Blue Ticks, are trained to “benefit required counter poaching initiatives including free tracking, incursion, detection, patrol and apprehension.

“They begin training from birth and are socialized from a very young age,” Johan van Straaten, a K9 master, tells the Mirror. “They learn how to track, bay at a person in a tree and follow basic obedience.”

(Image: Sean Viljoen / SAWC / Ivan Carter WCA / Caters News)

The dogs begin their training from birth before working at 18 months old.

“The data we collect for this applied learning project aimed at informing best practice, shows we have prevented approximately 45 rhinos being killed since the free tracking dogs became operational in February 2018,” he says.

“In the areas where the Southern African Wildlife College patrol, the success rate of the dogs is around 68 per cent using both on and off leash free tracking dogs, compared to between three to five per cent with no canine capacity.”

South Africa hold nearly 80 percent of the world’s rhino, and over the past decade, more than 8,000 rhinos have been killed due to poaching. This makes the country the “hardest hit by this poaching onslaught.”

He added that having the dogs have been a game-changer, because they are able to track at speed that is much faster than a human can, especially in terrains.

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