New dog to sniff out rhino horns
Ingrid Oellermann, The Witness
Johannesburg - Sniffer dogs appear set to become the rhinos’ best friend and a major contributor to the fight against poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products.
Hot on the heels of the introduction of Jack, a Belgian Shepherd, being trained by Stop Rhino Poaching as part of a project to use sniffer dogs in game reserves, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has welcomed a “new staff member”, wildlife sniffer dog Rico from Germany, who will be placed on duty at OR Tambo International Airport’s car and baggage sections.
The 2-year-old Belgian Malinois - a breed which is said to have an extraordinary sense of smell and a high work drive - will soon be introduced to his handler.
Though already trained to search for and detect scents, he will now undergo training specifically to sniff out rhino horn, ivory, abalone and other wildlife products.
As he matures, new scents of other threatened species affected by illegal trade and smuggling will be added to his olfactory repertoire, the trust said.
Rico is funded by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust and will be deployed as part of a partnership between the EWT and African Consultants for Transport Security.
EWT said the rhino poaching crisis had demonstrated that there is no single solution to addressing illegal wildlife trade, estimated to be the third-largest illegal industry worldwide after drugs and human trafficking.