The Eastern Cape, like so many places in South Africa, has felt the pain and brutal tragedy of rhino poaching. Since the first rhino was killed in 2009, rhino custodians have been searching for new and improved methods to add to the existing efforts so that we can challenge the current threat and protect this iconic species.
A number of tracker dogs have been deployed across the province over the years, proving their worth time and time again. However, one of the frustrations has been the inability to track poachers from these crime scenes if they were not discovered imminently.
A new invaluable layer of protection has arrived in the form of Ella, the cold scent tracking dog. After a strenuous six months of training, she has now been deployed in the Eastern Cape where she is available for any rhino poaching incidents in the surrounding areas.
Being a Bloodhound-Doberman cross, she has the ability to smell 40 times better than a human. This means she is able to track scents up to hours or even days old, often taking her over tracks that cross very difficult terrain.
The funding for this project has been made possible by a UK-based veterinary company called Medivet, and the combined expertise and experience of Wilderness Foundation Africa and the Chipembere Rhino Foundation. Together, they ensure that all Ella’s deployment and maintenance needs are met.
One of Ella’s most important pieces of equipment is her Isuzu KB 4X4 bakkie, which has been carefully modified for the job and allows her handler to get her to where she needs to be regardless of terrain and weather conditions. Eric Dickson, Ella’s handler, says “we are very fortunate to have been given a vehicle of this nature which allows us to travel quickly and comfortably on the open roads and also to navigate a variety of terrains. This means we are able to get Ella right to the crime scene, wherever that may be. We are extremely grateful to Kenrich Motors for their assistance in the deployment of this vehicle.”
This collaboration is another fine example of multiple role-players working together to find solutions to complicated and distressing crimes like rhino poaching.