Dogs are referred to as man’s best pals for a variety of reasons. They are dependable and intelligent but also perpetually juvenile and occasionally awkward. But most importantly, they will always have your back—even when things are at their worst.
When battling poachers and defending wildlife, this K9 fast reaction unit operating in South Africa always has their humans’ backs—and oftentimes, they do far better than their people. It turns out that the success rate of the dogs in the areas where the Southern African Wildlife College patrols are around 68 percent, compared to only between three and five percent when there are no dogs nearby.
It turns out that the Greater Kruger National Park’s Southern African Wildlife College has a K9 fast response team that is qualified to guard wildlife. There, puppies of all breeds—from beagles to bloodhounds—start their training and eventually develop into wonderful helpers for park rangers.
The data we gather for this applied learning initiative, intended to educate best practices, reveals we have avoided killing about 45 rhinos since the free tracking dogs went into action in February 2018, according to Johan van Straaten, a “K9 Master” at the college.
Van Straaten stated that the success rate of the dogs is roughly 68 percent in the areas where the Southern African Wildlife College patrols, as opposed to between three and five percent when there is no canine capacity. The ability of free-tracking canines to track at speeds considerably quicker than a human can and in terrain where the finest human trackers would lose spoor has changed the game.
Texan black-and-tan coonhounds, Belgian Malinois, foxhounds, and blue ticks are trained in free tracking, intrusion, detection, patrol, and apprehension abilities, according to Van Straaten. “They are indoctrinated from a very young age and receive training from infancy. They learn how to follow basic obedience, bay at a human in a tree, and track,” the man said.
They do have the requisite skill set to execute the work at a younger age, but they are not mature enough to face all the pressures of real operations. “At six months, we bring all that training together more formally. Around the age of 18 months, dogs start to function, depending on several circumstances.