Paramount dogs to curb poaching at Table Mountain National Park

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Paramount K9 Solutions specialist dogs and handler training are set to bolster counter-poaching capabilities at SANParks’ Table Mountain National Park (TMNP).

Last week, the park announced a first-of-its-kind sea, air and mountain (SEAM) special operations ranger team to strengthen safety and security. At its core is a re-established K9 unit with six new fully-trained dogs from Paramount K9 Solutions and a special operations centre.

This new team has multiple functions, including visitor safety, search and rescue and countering wildlife crime such as abalone poaching, Paramount said.

Paramount K9 Solutions’ anti-poaching and K9 training academy in Rustenburg trains tracker/sniffer dogs and handlers for anti-poaching operations to protect wildlife species such as elephant and rhino, pangolin and abalone on the endangered list.

The Academy provides anti-poaching reaction unit training, training handlers and detection dogs for deployment at game reserve access points and borders, tracker dogs for field rangers and trains special operations dogs for rapid deployment teams.

Eric Ichikowitz, Paramount Group senior group vice president said: “The reality is poaching is no longer solely a conservation issue. Poaching threatens the security and progress of the whole continent as it funds terrorism, insurgents, criminal cartels, human and drug trafficking. More than a decade ago we realised a man and dog solution was one of the best ways to combat poachers and the anti-poaching training academy was the result. Since then, we have grown as the impact of specialist K9 and handler teams became apparent for all to see.”

SANParks honorary rangers, through their K9 Project Watchdog national project, were key in the establishment of the SEAM centre through sponsorship of dogs, refurbishment of dog kennels and trailers and ranger training. The K9 Project Watchdog manages all canine related honorary ranger activity in all 18 national parks.

Moira Shein, K9 Project Watchdog chair is on record as saying: “The illegal wildlife trade not only threatens the survival of species, such as rhinos, elephants and abalone for future generations, it also threatens livelihoods and often lives of people in South Africa who depend on tourism for a living”.

“Referred to as a game changer in the war against rhino poaching, the K9 anti-poaching unit is proving to be an effective deterrent. An integral contributor to the success of these units is support from SANParks honorary rangers.”

Paramount K9 Solutions specialises in training and deployment of Belgian shepherds (Malinois). The Academy also trains and deploys German shepherds, Rottweilers and Bloodhounds. Malinois are selected for sensitive noses, endurance and ability to operate in extreme temperatures.

Specialist counter-poaching K9 and handler teams trained at the academy have been successfully deployed in national and private reserves across South Africa (including Kruger National Park), Southern and West Africa (including Gabon) and as far as Malaysia.

Paramount K9 Solutions chief executive Malcolm Greeff said: “We’ve had the privilege of supporting the incredible work of SANParks’ K9 teams over many years. The new SEAM team is another important milestone in innovative SANParks solutions to counter poaching in a multi-threat environment. We are proud of the many successes of K9 and handler teams. They are without a doubt one of the best counter measures against the relentless onslaught of poachers.”