A day in the life of the K9 unit's heroes


Jade Poole from I Write Words


We explore the daily routines and adventures or the wildlife-crime fighting dogs of Project Rhino’s K9 Unit

In case you haven’t heard, Oneplan has recently sponsored the heroic dogs and their brave handlers of Project Rhino’s K9 Unit with pet insurance and health insurance for one year.

Project Rhino, an amazing initiative, helps to facilitate rhino and wildlife conservation and eliminate poaching in our country.

In 2017, the group created the K9 unit. A first of its kind with the intention to help stop wildlife crime. These incredible dogs work hard to track down poachers, detect wildlife products and recover illegal ammunition and weapons.

If you want to get to know the dogs, then have a look at our blog post on them.

For this article, we decided to get to know these special dogs a little better and give you the inside scoop of what a typical day in their life looks like.

Where are the dogs based?

Gunner, Phoenix, Bonnie, Bailey and Spook and their handlers are based in the Zululand district of KZN.

A start to a heroes day

The dogs sleep in protected shelters to keep them safe from predators in their surrounding Big 5 environment. These shelters/kennels offer them enough space to stretch their legs, run around and play and more importantly provide them with comfortable bedding for a good night’s sleep.

If you want to donate blankets, toys are bedding, then click here. Remember, this unit relies solely on donations to operate.

At first light, the dogs are woken up by their handlers. Bounding to greet one another, their day starts with smiles, sloppy kisses and some play time.

A K9 Ranger will then clean and disinfect the kennels and if he notices any health issues or concerns, these will be reported.

Once this is done, the dogs and rangers will be deployed to patrol conservation areas on foot. They will check fence lines, detect any unauthorized entry points and track any suspicious scents.

If suspicious activity is detected, the team will initiate full on crime-fighting mode where they can track down suspects for hours and kilometres on end.



What do they eat?

Precisely balanced nutrition is vital for these dogs to ensure healthy joints and optimal functioning in the battlefield. The dogs eat Hill's™ Science Plan™ Canine Adult Advanced Fitness™ Lamb & Rice,  this dog food is formulated to support digestive health and lean muscle.

The dogs are fed at two different times during the night, this ensures that there is always a team ready for action.

The action

When on duty, and at first light, a handler and his dog will begin to patrol a certain area for suspicious activity and/or traces linked to a reported crime.

The dogs are often deployed onto the battlefield by means of a helicopter for patrol and detection. The K9 unit and rangers are on duty 24/7, every single day of the year and report to any crime related incidents where their incredible senses can be used in the Zululand area.

Here are some of the duties performed by a furry member of the K9 unit:

  1. Protecting his handler at all costs in the field
  2. Searching for illegal contraband
  3. Searching for missing people
  4. Tracking human scent
  5. Detection and apprehension

How the K9 unit has made a difference

Since its formation, the K9 unit has made an incredible impact in the fight against wildlife crime. Dogs have tracking abilities that no human can possess, thus, they are an essential part in conservation and wildlife safety.

If you want to get involved in making a difference in their lives, then why not make a donation? Click here.

Have a look at the list of needs for the K9 anti-poaching dog unit - how you can help make a difference. 

Keep your eyes open for more updates on this amazing initiative.

Let’s all work together to make today better.

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