Big Cat Doctor
NATURE & WILDLIFE
anti-poaching dog squad, the
Tracker dogs trained on human scent are revolutionizing anti-poaching efforts in South Africa’s Kruger national park, one of the last strongholds of the African Rhino.
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Episode InformationSouth Africa’s Kruger National Park is one of the last strongholds of the rhino in Africa and at 19,485 km2, it’s one of the largest national parks in the world. Patrolling this landscape is no small feat and its wildlife is under constant threat from poachers with over 1000 attacks each year. But an unlikely hero has come to sniff out the bad guys – Tracker Dogs. These specially trained hounds are revolutionizing anti-poaching efforts. At first, the rangers tracked poachers with foxhounds on leads. But the poachers were able to outpace the human-dog partners and flee capture. This changed in 2018 when free-running hounds arrived from Texas, and the numbers of poachers apprehended skyrocketed from just 3-5% to over 50% of incidents. These dogs are descended from a unique 100 year old bloodline of tracking hounds bred in Texas especially to apprehend prisoners on the run. They move at high-speed and can trace human odor from over 10 km away. They love to work together and when in pursuit of a target they signal to each other with barks and yips won’t quit till they capture the criminal.