The Endangered Wildlife Trust's (EWT) and the African Consultancy for Transportation Security (ACTS), a cargo screening company that uses sniffer dogs to detect explosives in transit, joined their expertise to use four sniffer dogs in the war against rhino poachers in South Africa.
Rico, a two year old Belgian Malinois sniffer dog, was the first to be deployed against wildlife poachers trying to smuggle contraband through O.R. Tambo International Airport. recently flagged a suspicious package and, once law enforcement officers and other sniffer dogs were brought to the scene, ivory and elephant skin were discovered in the consignment. The case is currently under investigation. Rico has also been instrumental in another recent bust of rhino horn and this too is under investigation.
Rico was recently joined by Heddi, Renaldo and Condor, who were imported from Germany.
The canines form part of the EWT's strategy to quell the rampant rhino poaching and illegal wildlife trade by implementing interventions at several stages in the poaching and wildlife trade chain, including the deployment of highly trained sniffer dogs at various ports of entry and exit, and the training of airport and border control officials on correct procedures to follow when dealing with wildlife smuggling cases.
According to Kirsty Brebner, the EWT's Rhino Project Manager, "The deployment of three additional dogs will contribute to increasing the detection rate of wildlife contraband and therefore, the risk associated with wildlife crime and rhino poaching specifically. With increased detection comes improved arrest and prosecution rates and hopefully, a reduction in poaching through deterring individuals involved in organised crime."
Rico, Heddi, Renaldo and Condor are funded through the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust Fund, administered through BOE. Bidvest Magnum has also recently come on board to generously sponsor the operational costs for the dogs as well as by donating two vehicles to the project.