A new mini-series is warming the hearts of wildlife enthusiasts by showing the work done by K9 anti-poaching units in South Africa; the K9s and handlers steal the show!
South Africa (21 July 2022) – Anti-poaching K9 units are being celebrated in South Africa. Five incredible teams are being featured by Hill’s Pet Nutrition in a new five-part mini-series called ‘Making Contact’. The series follows these teams to see what they get up to on a day in the field.
Not only are these unique relationships celebrated, but we get an intimate look at the bond between a K9 unit handler and their dog. We also get to hear just how successful each dog is in catching the poachers.
“95% of our poaching arrests are made with the help of tracker dogs,” – Johan de Beer, K9 Manager, Kruger National Park of South African National Parks.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition plays a vital role within several K9 units by sponsoring them. They sponsor 46 dogs in Kruger National Park, 2 in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and 14 in other parks around the country. It means that the dogs are getting the optimal nutrition, training and medical support for the invaluable work they do.
“There are substantial costs involved with training, feeding and looking after the health of the K9 unit dogs and Hill’s Pet Nutrition has proudly been sponsoring the units with food, equipment and healthcare for the last decade,” – Dr Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Affairs Manager at Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Kruger National Park K9 Manager Johan de Beer hopes that South Africans will be inspired by the series and see how the ongoing donations help in training and maintaining these dogs so that they can perform at their very best.
“We hope that by highlighting the work these dogs are doing, South Africans will help us to keep paws and boots on the ground and expand our K9 units.” – Johan de Beer, K9 Manager, Kruger National Park of South African National Parks.
The two areas featured in the mini-series are the Kruger National Park spread across Mpumalanga and Limpopo and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, situated in KwaZulu-Natal. Both parks are home to South Africa’s rhino populations and are regularly targeted by poachers. Having teams on the ground helps keep the situation under control.
The Hluhluwe iMfolozi K9 Unit was revamped in 2020, and at present, they have two handlers and two Doberman/Bloodhounds breeds called Ghost and Gecko, who are classified as cold scent dogs with the ability to follow scents that are up to eight hours old.
“The K9 unit has an incredible success rate and the deterrent factor of having such a unit on site can never be underestimated,” says Dennis Kelly, Makhamisa Section Ranger, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Since its inception in 2012, the unit in the Kruger National Park has grown from three to 46 dogs. Following great success, the project was extended to other national parks, with a total of 60 dogs now working around the country.
“Well-trained dog breeds such as Bloodhound, Belgian Shepherd and Malinois are perfectly suited to track poachers and to detect firearms, ammunition and wildlife products that enter and exit through park gates,” says De Beer.
South Africans are being called upon to help these parks, in partnership with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, to keep paws and boots on the ground by donating to the K9 anti-poaching units. Donations can be made here, with all proceeds going to the SANParks K9 Unit and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife K9 Units.
“Helping to protect and conserve our planet and wildlife is of global importance for Hill’s Pet Nutrition. The wild areas and their inhabitants are where we go to keep our spirit alive and need to be conserved for generations to come,” says Dr Fyvie.
You can watch the trailer for this five-part mini-series below and can find the full series, free to watch, here.