The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) will be using a sniffer dog to assist in its anti-rhino poaching campaign. Rico the Wildlife Sniffer Dog is being trained to detect wildlife products. The training is funded by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust. Rico will be deployed as part of a partnership between the EWT and the African Consultants for Transport Security (ACTS), a cargo screening company that uses sniffer dogs to detect explosives in cargo.
Rico, a two year old Belgian Malinois, arrived in South Africa from Germany on Tuesday the 6th of March. He will take up duty as a Wildlife Sniffer Dog at OR Tambo International Airport’s cargo and baggage sections. The canine is physically ideally suited for the task as he has a high work drive, immense confidence and intense focus, coupled with an extraordinary sense of smell.
The dog forms part of the EWT’s strategy to quell the rampant rhino poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
“Rico will be housed and cared for by ACTS at their canine facility in Kempton Park, with generous sponsorship for the animal also coming from BIDVest and the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Fund. Once he has acclimatised to his new environment Rico is to be introduced to his future handler,” says Kirsty Brebner of the EWT. “While he already understands the principles of searching for and detecting scents he will now be imprinted on the specific scents – particularly rhino horn, ivory and abalone – that he needs to detect before being put to work. As he matures, new scents of other threatened species affected by illegal trade and smuggling will be added to his olfactory repertoire.”
The EWT will facilitate the deployment of a further five dogs at various high risk border points of entry and exit during 2012. This will contribute to increasing the detection rate of wildlife contraband in transit 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.