Project Rhino’s K9 Unit: The Secret Weapon In The Fight Against Poaching
We chatted to the team at Project Rhino to find out what their incredible team of wildlife crime-fighting dogs have been up to.
You may have seen us post a few articles about sponsoring the health Project Rhino’s K9 Unit. Basically, we wanted to help cover the healthcare costs of the dogs and their handlers with pet insurance and health insurance.
We are incredibly proud to be a part of such an amazing initiative and love chatting to the team to find out their latest news and updates.
Did you know that a trained K9 dog is worth R80 000? Which is why insuring their health is of the utmost importance!
If you want to find out a little more about the sponsorships, these articles can come in handy:
About the sponsorship: Oneplan sponsors K9 anti-poaching dog unit - insuring the health of heroes
Updates on the sponsorship: Oneplan Insures The Health Of Another Dog Handler
What is Project Rhino?
Before we get into the latest updates that happened during the festive season, we wanted to give you a little background into what Project Rhino is, what they do and some information on their unique K9 Unit.
The initiative (Project Rhino) was launched on World Rhino Day in 2011. It is an association that aims to bring together “provincial government conservation bodies, private and community-owned reserves, rhino owners, leading conservation NGOs and anti-poaching security specialists.”
The organisation protects an area of more than 330,000HA. Rhinos have become a highly sought after target for poachers, which is fueled by the growing demand from traditional Eastern medicine.
Experts believe that we lose 2.4 rhinos a day in South Africa.
Project Rhino aims to bring an end to rhino poaching and various wildlife crimes to create an environment in which our beautiful wildlife can thrive.
Tell me more about the K9 Unit
The K9 unit was formed in 2017. The unit makes use of the incredible abilities of working dogs to track down poachers and various crime suspects. The two purposes of the unit are detection and tracking.
Have a look at this blog on a day in the life of these canine heroes to get an idea of how hard they work to bring an end to wildlife crime and poaching.
The unit supports and serves game reserves that stretch from Pongola to Mtubatuba. They also assist in SAPS roadblocks, night patrols, reserve vehicle checks and tracking of suspects.
The K9 Unit is based in KZN, Hluhluwe.
And update from the team
The team that never sleeps
In general, the team performs a number of roles in the fight against crime. From working with the SAPS (South African Police Services) to track down suspects in the thick bush that only a dog can navigate, working with local security teams, acting as a first-response to local farm owners, tracking various suspects on farms and conducting patrols of the rhino reserves.
Now that you have an idea of who Project Rhino is and what the K9 Unit does, let’s dive right into the updates we received from the team.
Here’s a summary of some of the activities that the team has been up to in July 2020:
- On arriving back from patrol the K9 unit came across a motor vehicle accident that happened, first on scene, the unit activated emergency services and started first aid until medical staff arrived, then assisted with traffic and crowd control for the duration of the incident.
- Call out from Alpha Security and Tracker SA to assist in locating a vehicle that was hi-jacked in Mathuba and that was moving in the direction of Hluhluwe Town.
- The Project Rhino K9 Team assisted the Pongola SAPS & Alfa Security with a roadblock in Pongola town. The K9 unit detection K9’s searched plus minus 40 vehicles, but all vehicles were clear of illegal substances, animal parts or weapons and ammunition
- The K9 Unit received information on suspects near Somkhanda Game Reserve that planned to conduct poaching activities within the reserve. The K9 and APU teams were activated and went on observation posts in the reserve. During the duration of the observation posts no suspects arrived and neither did any incident occur.
For more updates, check out Project Rhino’s Facebook page.
Real-world stats on rhino poaching: How the team makes a difference
Teams like Project Rhino’s K9 unit are making a huge impact on bringing down the number of poached rhinos every year.
A report from the department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries stated that, “In 2018, 769 rhino were killed for their horn in South Africa. During 2019, rhino poaching continued to decline, with 594 rhino poached nationally during the year.” This decline is attributed to the “the diligent work of the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to combat rhino poaching, often coming into direct contact with ruthless poachers.”
Another report titled “Rhino poaching decreases by more than half in first half of 2020.” These figures show how hard working teams such as Project Rhino and their K9 Unit are making a huge impact on the fight against rhino poaching and with their continued efforts, we can expect to see a significant decline in numbers of poaching incidents.
Of course, a team like this cannot do it alone. They need your help to continue doing the work and taking down the bad guys.
How you can help from home
Adopt a K9
You can sponsor a dog of your choice and help cover their monthly costs.
Check out this blog to find out more about this incredible initiative and sponsorship.
Make a donation
If you would like to make a direct transfer to the initiative, the bank account details are as follows:
Account name: Rhino Fund
Branch: Hayfields (250 655)
Account number: 627 420 16018
Swift code: FIRNZAJJ
Reference: K9 UNIT
Until next time,
The Oneplan Health and Pet Team