The Kruger National K9 Unit had a successful 2017 with a large sum of donations being left over for wishlist items in 2018.
The K9 unit had massive success in preventing poaching and capturing poachers. In their latest newsletter, the unit confirmed the following stats:
As at 25 October, SANParks had registered 320 contacts with poachers in Kruger National Park in 2017, 70% of which led to arrests. But all of the 102 contacts involving K9s had resulted in arrests of poachers!
The Kruger National Park’s K9 Unit has had an eventful 2017. Fundraising was a great success and there is over R100K left over to use in 2018 on their wishlist. The unit has a total of 55 dogs in the Kruger and about 20 others, spread across 6 other reserves that have a Rhino population.
There are different breeds of dog for each specialised task. Sniffer dogs (Spaniels, Beagles, Labradors and German Shepherds) check vehicles at park entry gates. The Bloodhound/Doberman mix, bred in South Africa, tracks human or carcass scents, even on ‘cold’ spoor older than 8 hours, and the Belgian Shepherds (Malinois) are the ambush specialists, deployed to stop and immobilize poachers.
SANParks Honorary Rangers from seven Regions, including KZN, assist with the general upkeep and maintenance of the K9 Centre and fundraising for Project Watchdog. They do so by volunteering their free time to care for the dogs.
There is an established system for trained SANParks Honorary Rangers to do volunteer duty at the K9 Centre. To date, nine Honorary Rangers from KZN Region have done duty there. The work involves exercising, brushing, bathing and feeding the dogs – and cleaning their kennels. In addition, volunteers carry out repair and maintenance work.
This has been particularly important after a bad hail storm damaged several buildings and equipment in late December 2017. The damage repairs caused delays in the completion of the K9 training obstacle course, but four of the seven obstacles have been built, and the course is now on track to be ready in June 2018.
SANParks has a limited budget so they set out each year with a few goals. The 2018 SANParks’ K9 “wishlist” includes the following items:
- Three new patrol dogs from Kruger National Park (cost: R 66 600 per dog, including training and GPS harness) feel free to contact KZN Region Honorary Ranger Lene Hansen
- Five more GPS harnesses with satellite connectivity for K9s in Kruger National Park (cost: R 22 500 per harness)
- Upgrade of the veterinary clinic at the K9 Centre (estimated cost: R 30 000)
- Back-up generator for the K9 Centre (estimated cost R 15 000)
- Two x 6m storage containers (estimated cost R 45 000)
We have shared this video before, but here it is again if you missed it. A day in the life of a ranger’s dog.