South Africa: The Working Dog Workshop 2018
The proven effectiveness of both detection and tracking dogs as a tool in the fight against rhino poaching has led to a marked increase in canine units in a number of African countries. However, many of these programmes work in isolation from each other, with little information sharing across borders. To address this challenge, Save the Rhino International funded and coordinated the Working Dog Workshop 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Dog squads have sprung up across African countries as an effective tool in fighting rhino poaching. Dogs can be trained to track down poachers for 48 hours, covering large distances across difficult terrain and in testing conditions, often with heat spiking up to 50 degrees Celsius. Side by side with rangers, they can apprehend criminals and help protect our rhinos. Dogs can also detect rhino horn at roadblocks or airports, helping to stop trafficking of the rhino horn and deter any illegal activity.
The proven effectiveness of both detection and tracking dogs as a tool in the fight against rhino poaching has led to a marked increase in canine units in a number of African countries. However, many of these programmes work in isolation from each other, with little information sharing across borders.
What did this workshop include?
To address this challenge, we Save the Rhino International has funded and coordinated the Working Dog Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, where 40 delegates from 13 African countries came together to exchange their knowledge of effectively using dogs to protect wildlife and apprehend criminals.
The Workshop addressed a number of key issues. The first day offered the opportunity to discuss the basics of starting and maintaining healthy dog squads: kennels, equipment, nutrition and veterinary care. The second day focused on issues of training detection and tracking dogs, and motivating handlers to do their jobs well despite inevitable challenges. During the third day participants shared their experience of deploying dogs in live environments, while on the final day they debated how best to use canine evidence in law-enforcement, helping to put criminals behind the bars.
Save the Rhino International has supported the Working Dog Workshop by providing vital funding and capacity support. Our staff member, Michaela Butorova, has dedicated a portion of her time to assist with the organisation of the Workshop, and helping the Regional Canine Coordinator in making this Workshop a great success.