Is there anything a dog isn't good for?
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a pack of beagles, bloodhounds, and other trained pups, have been working diligently alongside their human partners to provide essential services to national parks in South Africa. Since 2018, these dogs have saved nearly 45 rhinos who've been threatened by poachers.
At 18 months, the dogs are trained to help law enforcement catch poachers and confiscate firearms.
This project began back in 2017 when the CEO of Southern Africa Wildlife College, Theresa Sowry, visited with a man named Joe Braman at his ranch in Texas. Braman had trained a specific bloodline of dogs to help law enforcement successfully catch prison escapees.
Together, Braman and Sowry worked to bring his pack dog training to South Africa to catch poachers and protect endangered wildlife. He flew out to assess Kruger Nation Park's K9 unit and train a handful of dogs. The project took off from there.
Braman went back to Texas to train a group of dogs that he would then bring back to Kruger. When he flew back with the dogs, they weren't sure what to expect, however, almost immediately, the dogs caught a group of poachers who had killed a rhino.
Since then, the new K9 unit has increased the number of successful apprehensions of poachers tenfold. Even throughout this pandemic, the K9 team continues to work.
On May 7th, the Wildlife College celebrated the first birthday of the black and tan hound puppies, born from the original dogs that came from Braman in Texas. In sixth months, when the pups complete their training, they too will be out in the field protecting the endangered wildlife of South Africa.