Poaching clampdown

2018-05-17 17:23
Zap-wing pilot Ian Waghorn checking his aircraft, which is a tool in the anti-poaching campaign in Hluhluwe.

Zap-wing pilot Ian Waghorn checking his aircraft, which is a tool in the anti-poaching campaign in Hluhluwe. (Ian Carbutt)

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WATCH: New hi-tech project halts rhino poaching in private reserve

2018-05-11 13:25

A South African reserve has all but ended rhino poaching with the help of state-of-the-art technology. Watch.WATCH

Project Rhino is waging war on the multi-million rand poaching trade and is employing a new breed of operatives to help catch criminals.

The association, which facilitates vital rhino conservation in the province, is fighting back and taking increasingly drastic measures to counter illegal poaching and to snare poachers slaughtering rhinos. Equipped with a “Zap-Wing” for aerial surveillance and rescue, the association now boasts a newly formed K9 Unit and is all set to get into danger zones to snare poachers.

During a site inspection visit to the Zululand Anti-Poaching (Zap) Wing on Wednesday, The Witness was introduced to Mali the Belgian Shepherd who has become the first detection dog used by the K9 Unit as an essential tool in detection.

Project Rhino co-ordinator Chris Galliers said the K9 unit was introduced following staggering numbers of rhino poached in the province.

Rhino poaching has reached epidemic proportions with around 1 200 rhino being killed in 2014 and 2015 in South Africa alone. KwaZulu-Natal lost over 200 rhinos in 2017, compared to 162 in 2016.

“Rhino poaching hasn’t disappeared. Last year was the worst year the province has ever had. Poaching has been greatly increasing since 2009 in the province. We are still at the sharp end of this issue, and there are many challenges,” said Galliers.

Head of the Zululand Anti-Poaching (Zap-Wing) K9 Unit in Hluhluwe, Eric Dickson, with his dog Mali during a demonstration yesterday as part of the Project Rhino anti-poaching campaign.

The anti-poaching campaign K9 Unit was initiated in November last year. “We’ve started off with a detection dog and we are looking at running a centralised unit that will be able to service all the reserves. That means that we are able to manage the dogs well and give recognition to that.”

He said setting up the initial project cost the organisation about R600 000 to initiate but a further R1,4 million is needed to ensure that it runs efficiently going forward.

Project Rhino is looking at having at least six more detection dogs and three handlers operating full time in the 25 member reserves it operates in.

“We are gearing up to expand the dog unit in order to patrol and track in the reserves. The next step will be to find qualified handlers,” added Galliers.

Head of K9 Unit Eric Dickson said the formation of the unit has been well received.

“Up to now it has been very good; unfortunately you can’t achieve a lot with one handler and one dog because the area is so vast. The work that has been done has been well received and we will see if it’s going to work.”

Dickson said three-year-old Mali is certified in the detection of rhino horns.

The K9 Unit forms part of the ZAP-Wing which is staffed by five pilots and equipped with two Robinson R44 Raven Helicopters, a WW Netherlands donated Rainbow Skyreach Cheetah and a MicroAviation Bathawk light sport aircraft (LSA) owned by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  rhino poaching

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