Dog detection is now being used to help save the rhino.

The Dog Detection and Protection services are made up of an elite canine unit in South Africa. We all know dogs have extraordinary abilities and with specialised intensive training, they can become skilled in many different ways. Trained canines are used as security dogs to guard specific areas with their handlers. In particular, they patrol one of South Africa’s most important black rhino breeding populations located on the Eastern Cape.

With rhino poaching increasing by nearly 3,000% since 2007, the need to combat the trade in rhino horn has never been greater. The Wilderness Foundation has reported several arrests, made possible due to these skilful and capable canines.

Dogs like Bud and Seun in the Dog Detection programme specialise in patrolling boarders, tracking poachers, and sniffing out firearms and contraband like rhino horn and ivory. They are a remarkable group of dogs whose dedicated handlers share a unique bond with them. Their teamwork is proving to be a very valuable deterrent in the arsenal against poachers as these trained dogs and their handlers boast 90% accuracy in detecting rhino horn in luggage and shipments.

Seun Buddy

Seun (left) and Bud (right), are effective deterrents of rhino poachers.

Seun is a Malinois four-year-old cross German Shepherd born in 2011 and Bud is a Setter cross Spaniel, born in 2010. Both dogs were trained for human scent tracking. Seun is able to attack, although we do not use him for this due to the risk this may pose to him in the thicket environment. Our primary objective at all times is to ensure that we have ranger support with the dogs to avoid injuries. 

Sadly, Seun contracted a nasty tick-borne blood parasite called Babesia last year, which was almost fatal. However, generous donations from our clients, partners and staff helped fund his treatment, which included two blood transfusions. On October 22nd 2015, Seun was deemed well enough to return to work. His handler is extremely proud of him, and wanted to share this photo and message:

Seun with his handler

“Seun on his first day back at work and it looks like he never left at all.  Beautiful nose position, focus and discipline.  Needless to say, he found his man.  A huge thanks again to the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative supported by Medivet Saving the Rhino for dragging him back from death’s door”.

A huge thank you to all our clients, too. By attending one of our free puppy parties and choosing to make a donation, you have joined the fight to save the rhino. Your generous donations have helped make this possible. 

One of our senior partners, John Smithers, visited South Africa to spend time at the reserve with the tracker dogs.

“It is extremely well run, and our funds are undoubtedly helping to protect their rhinos. The dogs have tracked a number of potential poachers and assisted in their apprehension, and are proving to be a strong deterrent in their own right.”

The Wilderness Foundation is supporting Rhino Protection Dogs in one of the most important places of refuge for rhinos. Donations from our Medivet Saving the Rhino campaign will support this project; to help with the costs of ongoing training for these courageous canines and their brave handlers, veterinary treatment and the purchasing of vital equipment.