Kruger’s SAWC dog squad wins conservation award

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 12 December 2018

The K9 unit at Kruger National Park’s Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) won the prestigious Kudu Award at a gala last month.

Supplied: SAWC.

The Kudu Award started out as a SANParks initiative for honouring external stakeholders for their conservation efforts. The award was issued at a gala hosted at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Gauteng on 16 November, and a tech surveillance operative, the Meerkat Project, was also recognised and shared this year’s award with the SAWC for innovative conservation work at Kruger National Park.

Supplied: SAWC.

The park’s doggy squad has only been around since 2015, but with the efforts of the SAWC it has established itself at the forefront of wildlife conservation and anti-crime operations. According to the Wildlife College, there is a great demand for well-trained dogs, handlers and rangers. The SAWC also trains specialised off-leash dogs as well as incursion and detection dogs.

The K9 unit has been involved in more than 70 deployments in the Greater Kruger National Park, with success in arresting 61 poachers and claiming 25 rifles from the wildlife criminal system. The dog unit also received some new members when 20 free-running pack dogs from Texas joined the team.

Dog Master Johan van Straaten with one of the dogs in the SAWC’s K9 unit. Supplied: SAWC.

‘Through our ‘learning by doing’ approach, we’re supporting live operations but also boosting capacity in the sector throughout SADC by training dogs and handlers,’ said SAWC CEO Theresa Sowry.

Sowry added that the college is proud to share the Kudu Award with the Meerkat Project: ‘Countering poaching requires new ways of thinking and doing, and together we are helping to shape the future of conservation’.

Supplied: SAWC.

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