How You Can Help Support The Canine Heroes Of Project Rhino’s K9 Unit


Jade Poole from I Write Words

K9 blog image

The wildlife crime-fighting team is hard at work amidst the global pandemic, here’s how you can help from home.

Flying in helicopters, apprehending bad guys, stopping poaching and other wildlife fighting crimes, the K9 Unit does everything they can to make an incredible difference to the lives of our precious wildlife and safety of reserves and farms.

Founded in 2017, Project Rhino’s K9 Unit consists of 4 dogs and their handlers who are at the front line of combat when it comes to fighting wildlife crime.

Project Rhino is an initiative that consists of a number of organisations with the key focus on stopping rhino poaching, however, their various anti-poaching units are involved in a number of activities, all with the wider mandate to stop wildlife crime in general.

In 2019, Oneplan Insurance reached out to the organisation and offered to sponsor the health of the working dogs and their handlers with pet and health insurance.

A brief history of the K9 Unit

Before the K9 Unit was created, no such dog unit existed to service the needs of all the Project Rhino member reserves in Zululand and the organisation had to rely solely on the availability of the South African Police Services’ single dog unit (one SAPS officer with 2 dogs detection dogs) based in Empangeni, which was often not able to assist due to other crimes. To add to this, the SAPS dogs were not trained for wildlife crime needs.

Working dogs are used worldwide to aid in performing a number of tasks and many are realising the value of dogs in combating various crimes. In the field of nature conservation, detection, apprehension and tracking dogs are increasingly being used to assist with wildlife anti-poaching efforts.

Detection dogs are able to find the smallest of odours. Tracking dogs aid in locating suspects which had led to the successful arrest and prosecution of poachers and others who break the law.

The role of this pawesome crime-fighting unit

Furry heroes in our eyes, here’s a little information as to the functions the unit serves...

Project Rhino’s K9 Unit serves two functions, detection and tracking.

The aim of the detection dog team is to be highly effective in searching suspects, crime scenes, buildings, vehicles and outdoor locations. The team also strives to reduce the time it takes to conduct a search with the use of the detection dog. The wildlife crime-fighting team uses trained and certified tracking dogs to assist in tracking and locating suspects in the shortest possible time.

With dogs having the capabilities of working in environments not conducive to successful tracking by a human tracker, the K9 team provides the necessary support and assistance to the tracking team. The primary role of the

Project Rhino’s detection and tracking dogs assist both private and state reserve management and law enforcement units in the region in combating wildlife crime, the priority crime being rhino poaching. The unit aims to support conservation entities requiring the assistance of trained dogs in the Zululand region.

The K9 team has a great effect on criminals as they are noticed by many people and feared by those who break the law. The unit aims to make its presence known through active vehicle and foot patrols in the area of operation.

Carefully chosen handlers

The handlers are also carefully selected. Only highly motivated individuals who are in great physical shape are chosen with the highest level of tactical training and ability.

The handlers form a special bond with the dogs and together they form an unstoppable crime-fighting team.

Hard at work during lockdown

The K9 Unit is available on a 24-hour, on-call basis. Deemed an essential service, they are still hard at work while we are all safe at home.

Along with the aerial patrol team, the K9 Unit is always on duty and ready to respond to those in need.

The key for the unit going forward is to first attain greater financial security to keep the K9 Unit operational for the reserves and secondly to expand the unit to deliver a better service that is improved through a cycle of continual improvement.

The updated list of needs: How you can help


●        Bravecto: 40-56kg X2 Every 3 months

●        Bravecto 20-40kg X7 Every 3 months 

●        Seresto Collars X9

●        Deworming Tablets X9  Every 3 months

●        Nobivac 5/1 vaccination X24

●        Nobivac Rabies 10ml X1

●         F10 Disinfectant  5L X2

●        Leash 1.8m large X9

●        Dog Toys Ball/Kong X20

●        Pop Up water bowls X 6

●        Steel water bowls 5L X18

●        Steel feeding bowls (Large) X12

●        Accelerate Dog on Tap self-filling up water bowl  


●        Raincoats X 6

●        Bullet Proofs for night work X 4

●        Night sights/vision or FLIR X 2

●        Thick Green or brown socks X12 pairs

●        Boots Size 7 x 3,8 x1,9 x1 &10x1 X5

●        Cooking pot set X2

●        Backpacks 25L: Black, Green, Camo, Brown X6

●        T-Shirts Black, Green, Camo, Brown X18

●        Flashlights X6

●        Camelbak bladders 3L


●        Tyres X4

●        Mud Flaps X4

●        Tyre repair kit X2

●        High Lift jack 4 x 4 X1

●        Air Compressor 12volt X1

●        LED Spotlight bar X1

●        Dog Kennel canvas mattresses X4

●        Seat cover canvas  1 set X2

●        Rear seat canvas custom made to fit cab/half X1


●        Y stand fence poles 2.3m X30

●        Welded mesh 50 x 50 2.25mm X90 meters

●        Sink 3.0m length X12

●        Gates pedestrian 1.8 x 900 X4

●        Cement  50kg X25

●        Air-conditioning unit X2

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

You can also check out their Global Giving page and donate here.


Until next time,

Stay healthy and stay safe!

The Oneplan Team.

blog 2 Photo credit Peter Chadwick
Photo: Peter Chadwick

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