K9 dogs specially trained to track down wildlife poachers have saved 45 endangered rhinos

K9 dogs specially trained to track down wildlife poachers have saved 45 endangered rhinos

There are many endangered species put at risk due to illegal poaching. Luckily there are groups dedicated to protecting these creatures—but the rhinos at one South African park get a little extra protection from some of their fellow animals.

The Southern African Wildlife College in Greater Kruger National Park does everything it can to protect their local rhino population.

“Over the past decade over 8,000 rhino have been lost to poaching making it the country hardest hit by this poaching onslaught,” the college’s K9 master Johan van Straaten told The Mirror.

One of their most successful programs to combat poaching involved recruiting an unlikely team of heroes: a squad of K9 dogs, specially trained to track down poachers.

These dogs—a mix of different hunting dog species, including beagles, bloodhounds and foxhounds—work hard to be the best at their jobs.

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

The dogs begin their job at about 18 months old. All their hard work pays off: the K9 program has had proven success reducing the number of poached rhinos.

“The data we collect … shows we have prevented approximately 45 rhino being killed since the free tracking dogs became operational in February 2018,” van Straaten told The Mirror.

The dogs are invaluable because of their speed and ability to navigate the territory, making them more successful than human trackers.

The SAWC's K9 unit continues to contribute to the success of counter poaching in the Greater Kruger National Park….

Posted by Southern African Wildlife College on Friday, November 16, 2018

It’s inspiring to know that these dogs have been so successful at tracking down poachers.

We wish we lived in a world where no one would try to hunt down an innocent, endangered animal—but these rhinos can rest easy knowing these dogs have their back.

Thank you to these incredible dogs for saving all these rhinos! Share this incredible news!