Source: Citizen (Extract)
Posted: October 27, 2023

On Tuesday October 24, the Kruger National Park (KNP) officially launched a satellite hound unit for free-running pack dogs.

The unit is part of the additional measures to anti-poaching security.

“We decided to adopt this initiative and have seen a lot of success in curbing poaching in the park. The fact that they can run fast and follow tracks is something that was needed all along. They are not replacing our K9 unit, but are added to this successful one, because they can run on their own without a harness or handler,” Dreyer said.

She added that the KNP will continue to increase its efforts with the ultimate aim of terminating poaching. While the poachers are known for always using novel tactics, Dreyer said the rangers are ready for them. She also said the satellite unit was made possible by donations.

“The launch was not going to be successful if we did not have donors. We do not have enough funds to carry out the initiative, but thanks to sponsors, we have managed to build this unit, are able to feed the dogs with good nutrition and hire people to be on standby 24 hours a day to attend to possible poaching scenes and treat the dogs when they are sick. For this satellite to be sustainable, the KNP entirely depends on donors,” she said.

“We have used different methods to curb rhino poaching, most of them being successful. However, adding these dogs to assist the K9 unit was a game changer. They are good when it comes to following tracks. Once they locate the poacher, they do not get aggressive. For their safety, when they follow tracks, we have a chopper in the sky to make sure we can see them, and once we locate the poacher, the ranger on foot can reach the dogs,” Whitfield explained.

He said since the introduction of the K9 unit and these free-hunting hounds, none of the dogs had been injured or attacked. The only challenge is when they run into tracks of wild animals; it distracts their running and they cannot keep up. Despite this, they have made a huge difference.

Whitfield concluded by saying that with the free-running hounds and K9 unit dogs, the fight against poaching of rhinos and other animals is being won.