Canines On The Front Line Of Conservation
Man’s best friend has proven to be an invaluable partner in wildlife conservation. Across Africa, a multitude of different breeds are utilised to support anti-poaching efforts. With their keen sense of smell, canine conservation heroes have been gamechangers in tracking human poaching suspects, locating snares, and finding wounded wildlife.
2022 was the first year featuring canine anti-poaching detection teams in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. Ranger dogs and their handlers competed remotely across Africa, using scent to identify an object across a pre-defined competition space.
Awards went to the fastest team to identify the target object. Prizes were not be given for most photogenic or fastest-wagging tail, but nonetheless the competition was tight!
Wildlife Ranger K9 Challenge 2022
5th – 8th September 2022
Each team consisted of one dog and one handler, competing across an area of 60m x 60m
The challenge was be filmed, with filming initially showing the competition area and surroundings to show the dog and handler are not present
A third party threw an object for identification into the marked area, after which the dog and handler may be called
The dog and handler began at the downwind corner of the competition area, no more than 15mins after the object was thrown
The dog’s time begins when it steps into the competition area and ended when the object has been identified.
The K9 unit of Mkomazi
Humans have a mere 5 million scent receptors in their nose. Dogs have over 200 million, making them a game changer for wildlife protection. Our partner in Tanzania, Honeyguide, established a K9 unit in 2011 in the Kilimanjaro region and within 2 years, all elephant poaching ceased. For the first year the Wildlife Ranger Challenge will hold a K9 mini-challenge, giving dogs and their handlers the opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary skills.
Does your dog have it what it takes to track like a ranger dog? Why not try out a tracking game with your own pet at home?
- Using three identical containers, add some pet-safe essential oils to a cotton bud.
- Out of sight of your dog, place the cotton bud into one of the containers.
- Place the containers on the ground and reward your dog for approaching the correct container
- As your dog gets faster at identifying the scent, place the containers further apart. You can even hide the containers, or add different scents to the other containers to up the challenge even further!
Share how you and your canine companion do on social media with the hashtag #TrainLikeARanger and donate to support the welfare of canine units across Africa.
Prizes for highest achieving ranger teams generously donated by Lady Holmes