In a previous article, Rico, the Wildlife Sniffer Dog was introduced to the public. Rico is a Belgian Malinois and is trained to detect wildlife products, particularly rhino horn. His implementation at OR Tambo International airport has already proved worthwhile.
Recently three more dogs were imported to add to the team: 2 Malinois and one German Shepherd. I was fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to visit these dogs at the training facility in Kempton Park in December 2012. Pictured here are the female Malinois and the German Shepherd dog. They are shown with their handlers, and have settled into their new environment very well.
These dogs are also funded through The Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust, managed by Nedbank Private Wealth, along with sponsorship from Bidvest. Like Rico, they will be deployed as part of a partnership between the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Bidvest Magnum, which operates a dedicated cargo screening division that uses sniffer dogs to detect explosives in cargo. These dogs have been chosen for their high work ethic – they have both the physical and mental ability to work with intense focus and drive. In order to do their job, these dogs need to be supremely confident and sociable. This combined with their phenomenal sense of smell makes them ideal for this type of work.
Here the dogs with their handlers are have a discussion with Warwick Wragg of the ACTS K9 Unit and Yolan Friedman of the EWT.
This photo shows one of the new recruits, Heddi (Belgian Malinois female) getting put through a training exercise. Whilst the dog is out of sight, a small amount of shaved rhino horn is hidden underneath one of the tyres. Heddi has successfully identified its placement and is indicating by sitting next to the tyre containing the horn. Her handler, George, is about to reward her with her ball.