Addo Elephant National Park’s K9 Unit is now equipped with an obstacle course to keep them in top form all year round, thanks to generous donations from local business owners in Port Elizabeth and with the assistance of the Park’s Honorary Rangers. Obstacle courses have been proven to help reinforce basic obedience commands, improve dog/owner communication and ultimately help to improve dogs’ behaviour outside of the agility course.
Addo’s K9 unit is made up of four dogs – deployed throughout the Park’s various sections. The obstacle course will ensure that both the dogs and their handlers remain fit and strong and that they receive continuous training. The dogs are regularly put through their paces searching vehicles at the Park’s entry and exit gates and doing general patrolling with their handlers.
This new obstacle course was made possible through the donation of wood by Woody’s Timber & Boards’ owner John Hallam and MD Jason Bekker and additional wood, hardware and plans for the course by Loftie Deysel from Robbie Deysel Engineering. A number of the Park’s Honorary Rangers and friends have been hard at work with its assembly over the past two weeks.
Its handover forms part of the K9 Watchdog National Project, a national initiative of the SANParks Honorary Rangers, which has been in operation for the past seven years. Already, the project has achieved enormous success. The dogs’ incredible scenting abilities are undeniable – wherever they operate, the poaching figures drop and the arrest rate rises.
Well-trained dogs are perfectly suited to track poachers in the field and detect firearms, ammunition and wildlife products that enter and exit through park gates. These remarkable dogs can follow an hours-old scent over impressive distances.
There are currently over 80 working dogs in SANParks who are contributing immensely to anti-poaching operations and is a game changer nationally – with 90% of all captures of poachers related to the K9 and its handler. This is a huge benefit to the rhino and elephant conservation efforts in national parks.
SANParks Honorary Rangers is the official volunteer organisation of SANParks. Over the past 10 years, they have provided SANParks with nearly R250 million in public and business donations and volunteer support.