Posts Tagged With: dogs

Rhino conservation is going to the dogs

Nairobi stray trained in apu by jeremy goss

This Nariobi stray was trained and utilized in a Kenyan APU. Photo: Jeremy Goss

With the ability to hear at a distance 4x greater and at a higher pitch,
the amazing ability to feel or sense energy,
and with a sense of smell 1,000 to 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human
dogs are the perfect anti-poaching weapon.

Like the superman of an anti-poaching team, they can work long hours through harsh conditions, picking up the trail of a poacher without hesitation. They can search a car in 3-4 minutes, while it can take an hour to search with humans alone. And they are relentless to reach their goal.

Utilized everywhere from  Kruger National Park, the Congo, Kenya, and Zambia; they are trained to track poachers, to locate ivory and horn, and even to repel from helicopters.

dog propeling from copter by paramount group

K9 Conservation Training practicing repelling with ranger and his canine companion. Photo: Paramount Group

The most frequently used breeds are Bloodhounds, Weimaraner , Malinois, and Antaloian Shepherds. Dog selection is based partially on specific working conditions and most importantly on personality and demeanor.

According to Megan Parker, from Working Dogs Conservation in Montana, “bad” dogs don’t make great pets, but their personalities are perfect for conservation work.

The perfect example of this comes from a “bad” dog named Ruger. Found in an animal shelter and highly “unadoptable”, he has successfully been trained in anti-poaching work. The first anti-poaching canine in Zambia, Ruger has put away 150 poachers to date. And all this work for what? A reward of a game of tug-o-war with his favorite chew toy.

shelter dog helps rangers

Ruger with the Delta Team in Zambia. Photo:unknown.

With all the perks of working with dogs, perhaps Damien Bell, director of Big Life Tanzania, sums it up best.

“Apart from their incredible tracking abilities, dogs are wonderful to work with because they don’t have any political agenda—they can’t be compromised. “

 

 

 

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rape and Pillage of Africa’s Wildlife

The Chinese are welcomed into parts of Africa with increasing regularity to “work” and “aid” Africans with economic gains. With the intent of modernizing infrastructures (roads and railways), or to mine minerals or to offer government incentives, they have become integrated into at least 24 countries across the dark continent over the last five years.

chinese investment in africa 2010

A delicate and controversial marriage to say the least, as they seemingly covet Africa’s jobs, land and minerals.

One thing that cannot be denied is the boldness with which they have exploited Africa’s wildlife. According to Born Free USA,  “Chinese illicit ivory traffickers in particular have been arrested across nearly every single African range state, and operate at nearly every point along the ivory supply chain.”

Tanzania – In a report from the Environmental Investigation Agency, interviews with poachers claim they have sold ivory to members of the Chinese Embassy. It also links a surge in the Tanzanian ivory market during an official visit from a Chinese naval task force and even claims that members of President Xi Jinping’s entourage smuggled ivory out of Tanzania on the presidential plane during his visit in March 2013.

 Republic of Congo – Asian migrant laborers are involved in the logging industry here (70-75% of which is illegal), and are in direct contact with elephants and other area wildlife. It has been suspected their presence has been responsible for increased poaching.

congolese worker watched by chinese foreman

Congolese worker being watched by Chinese foreman. photo: Saturday’s Daily Telegraph

Mathieu Eckel, head of the APU in Odzala-Kokoua National Park, Congo has been watching activity of the Chinese construction camps in the area. He said “We’ve had many stories that involve local poachers and Chinese, but to get the Chinese you have to find them with the ivory”.

In previous attempts where workers in the area had been caught red-handed, corruption or incompetence of Congolese Prosecution has led to no charges being filed. (CNN Report)

Gabon – After seeing elephant skins hanging outside a construction camp, rangers raided the camp and seized carved chopsticks, horns sheared from a Bongo antelope, the scales of a pangolin, a quantity of unworked ivory, and breakfast: several servings of roasted elephant trunk.

Lee White, the head of Gabon National Parks said, “The suspicion is they were hiding the finished pieces (of ivory) in timber containers which were being shipped to China.”

Zimbabwe – Perhaps one of the most controversial and heartbreaking moves comes from the government allowing China to come into the National Park and remove elephants for their zoos, many of them have been infants ripped from their mothers. Zimbabwe’s defense- the sale of the elephants is needed to raise funds for conservation efforts. 

Zimbabwe elephant herd

A herd of African elephants drinking at a muddy waterhole in Hwange national Park in Zimbabwe. Photograph: Zdenek Maly/Alamy

Rhinos of course have also been a target. John Pameri, head of security and chief ranger at the Lewa Conservancy in Kenya believes the recent influx of Chinese construction workers into Kenya has helped to renew awareness among locals and crime networks that rhino horns can be sold for thousands of pounds on the black market.

“Our local intelligence suggests some of the poachers come from Somalia, but the demand is from the Chinese workers,” Pameri stated.

lewa rhino

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is one of the two main rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. Luckily in 2014, with high security, they managed to evade any poaching incidents. photo: Lewa Conservancy

The Kenya Wildlife Service has also noted a correlation between the influx of Chinese labour and poaching, and has blamed the crisis on the increasing number of Chinese nationals living in Kenya. (There are currently between 3000-10000 Chinese living in Kenya).

Other victims found at these construction sites include giraffes, pythons, leopards and even local dogs being poached and consumed by the workers. In Zimbabwe authorities found 40 rare tortoises at a worker’s home, most of which were merely skeletal remains left after consumption.

But the culprits are not just in the construction sector, Chinese merchants often sell cheap trinkets and clothing in small shops throughout Africa, but the real money is in their back door business of wildlife trade. One such area revealed in an investigation by Hongxiang Huang and Oxpeckers exposed Katima, Namibia as a central hub of trading between trans-border African smugglers and Chinese shop keepers and traders.

Many of these shop owners are linked to the ivory trade in the guise of buying and selling of ivory souvenirs and artifacts for export and sale to tourists, which is perceived to be legal.

South Africa is seeing the largest flux of Chinese migrants. Wildlife trafficking syndicates here continue to brazenly sell rhino horn and ivory at the Chinese markets in SA’s own capital cities, even in the face of global attempts to crack down on the illicit trade in endangered species.

The Chinese have a poor track record when it comes to wildlife conservation, but African countries must accept responsibility for protecting their own wildlife. The price of losing the land and animals is too great to pay for any economic gain.

elephant coming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Man’s (and now Rhino’s) Best Friend

Bloodhound and ranger in Virunga Nat. Park.

Bloodhound and ranger in Virunga Nat. Park.

With poaching so prevalent, too much space and too little manpower, a different approach is being utilized to stop poachers. Dogs.

In the Congo, an elite canine anti-poaching unit is employed to track down elephant poachers. Specially trained bloodhounds, who require a 2 year training program, have already aided rangers in chasing poachers down. In Virunga National Park, the first instance out they pursued the suspects for 7km.

In South Africa, the Rhino Orphanage is training dogs to help keep track of and protect the baby rhinos; rhino security if you will.  (see: Duma: The Rhino Dog)

In Gabon, dogs are being utilized in the airport to detect illegal wildlife. The program has been quite successful, with the canines finding shark fin and bushmeat in addition to ivory.

Gabon's tracking team works for a tennis ball.

Gabon’s tracking team works for a tennis ball.

Green Dogs Conservation and Congohounds  are two non-profit groups situated in South Africa, specializing in training dogs for anti-poaching and other conservation purposes. Trained similar to police dogs, they are given basic training and aptitude testing, matching the right dog to the right situation.

As Green Dogs points out, 60% of the brain of a dog is devoted to smell. They can detect scents we aren’t even aware of. Congohounds states, bloodhounds can detect a single smell out of 5 million!

Search and rescue dogs have long been trained to find people, landmines, drugs, and even cancer. With their phenomenal sense of smell and high energy, it’s a perfect fit to train them to track and detain poachers.

Duma and Ntombi getting acquainted.

Duma and Ntombi getting acquainted.

 

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Duma: The Rhino Dog

The Rhino Orphanage has a new resident on board. Only this time it’s not a rhino or an elephant. It’s a German Shepard named Duma.

Duma is a rhino tracker. He has a big job; he’s being trained to keep an eye on the rhinos to enhance their security.

Duma and Ntombi investigating a log.

Duma and Ntombi investigating a log.

The current poaching crisis is presenting some challenges to the welfare of the orphans, including security and tracking. The orphaned calves, traumatized by the poaching, do not behave predictably and are more reactive to noise and disturbance making conventional tracking and helicopter searches difficult and ineffective.

Duma is still a pup, but he has amazing character, is very bright, has a strong drive and is wonderful with the calves!

Categories: Rhino Ramblings, Rhino Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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