Mthokozisi Ndlovu, chronicle correspondent
CANINES for Africa, a non-profit organization providing logistical support and support to conservation areas and game parks, is deploying two units of highly trained and specialized wildlife conservation working dogs to Hwange and Bubi to combat against poaching and helping local communities in a variety of ways.
The organization’s director, originally from Zimbabwe, Vianna von Weyhausen, said the two dogs will arrive in Zimbabwe from Hoedspruit, South Africa, on November 20.
One of the dogs, K9 Tsotsi, a blue foxhound cross tick, was part of a pack of leopard hunters before being reassigned to track humans. He will work at Bubye Valley Conservancy.
The other dog, K9 Baron Curtis, is a German Shepherd husky mix. He has been trained to detect ivory and will be deployed to conservation areas on the outskirts of Hwange.
In 2019, Canines for Africa (also known as K94A), deployed its first working dog to Zimbabwe – a Malinois named K9 Katana. She works with the Akashinga, a reputable all-female anti-poaching unit. The success of K9 Katana prompted Canines for Africa to deploy more working dogs to Zimbabwe.
Founded in 2017, K94A, which operates from a training center in South Africa, has deployed 19 canine units, including in Namibia, Mozambique, Mali, South Africa and India. There will soon be units in Mexico as well.
Working dogs perform a multitude of functions, from tracking live and dead animals, to tracking and apprehending human suspects, to detecting contraband and traps, and assisting scientists in their research. .
“There is evidence that once working dogs are deployed to a protected area, word spreads quickly among poachers and criminal syndicates, greatly reducing the level and frequency of poaching incidents (and often d ‘other crimes),” von Weyhausen said.
Poaching is rampant in Zimbabwe and some of the animals targeted by poachers include rhinos and elephants.
Zimbabwe and Botswana have almost 50% of the
Zimbabwe and Botswana are home to almost 50% of the world’s elephants. Some poachers resort to poisoning water sources frequented by elephants. This has a catastrophic effect because all the animals that drink the water die, as well as those that feed on the dead animals.
On the other hand, poaching has reduced the number of rhinos in Zimbabwe to just over 1,000.
The country is home to 616 black rhinos and 417 white rhinos. Black rhinos are classified as critically endangered.
Rhinos are targeted by poachers for their horns which they mainly sell in Asia where they are believed to treat cancer and other diseases, as well as being a status symbol.
Working dogs are fundamental as they are able to track poachers before they kill the animals.
“Unless people like you and me act urgently to protect the world’s last wild places and wildlife, the lives of our children and their children will be robbed of what is most beautiful and more meaningful,” von Weyhausen said.
She added, “We encourage all operators in our units to work with local communities as much as possible.”
One of the ways dogs help is by following stray dangerous animals, which can cause havoc, kill people and livestock, and destroy crops. Dogs can also be used to help track a lost child or adult.
She added that working dogs also help local communities in a variety of ways. One way is to track stray dangerous animals.
In the past, stray animals have wreaked havoc, killing people and livestock. Von Weyhausen said Canines for Africa introduces its working dogs to nearby communities so people get used to them.
“We encourage all of our unit operators to work with local communities as much as possible,” she said.