The formidable tracking skills of Denel’s trained dogs will now be used to sniff out rhino poachers in the Kruger National Park.
Specially trained dogs will be deployed in South Africa’s top nature reserve for the next 18 months, in terms of an agreement signed between Denel and SANParks recently.
Riaz Saloojee, Group CEO of Denel, says the company is looking forward to working with nature conservation authorities to combat the scourge of poaching. “There is global concern about the devastating impact of poaching on our resources, but the most effective action is to be on the ground, detect the poaching gangs and apprehend them before they can do further damage.
“The canine unit at Denel Mechem provides the most effective answer in the battle against poaching,” says Saloojee. The dogs and their handlers have, in the past, been used to great effect to detect explosives and hidden landmines in war zones across Africa and the Middle East.
They also scored successes to sniff out smuggled drugs, contraband and ivory at airports and border posts.
“Our focus is now on the illicit poaching of rhinos,” says Saloojee. “Mechem will supply trained dogs and train SANParks dog handlers that will be deployed in Kruger Park. Technical K9 support and specialised dog care programmes will also be provided for the duration of the contract period.
“We are delighted to work with SANParks and to contribute to its extensive efforts to protect our natural resources. This is a case of two state-owned companies pooling their resources and expertise to participate in a project that is of national and regional importance,” he says.
Dr Hannes Slabbert, senior manager: Canine Business, says Mechem has trained dogs available that can be deployed immediately to the Kruger Park. “Over the past three years, we have gained a lot of experience in this field by supplying trained anti-rhino-poaching dogs and specialised handler training to several private game reserves and SANParks.
“Dog/handler combinations form formidable teams and we are quite confident that we can have a huge impact towards the effort of breaking the back of rhino horn smuggling operations in the Kruger Park,” says Dr Slabbert.