Conservation the real winner, as College’s K9 Unit and supporting teams win another award

The SAWC’s K9 Unit recently received the Kruger National Park’s Managing Executive award from Glen Phillips to honour the work of the SAWC’s free tracking hounds and the Kruger National Park rangers and pilots, including the SAWC’s aerial support unit, in helping to counter poaching.

This follows on from last year’s win at the prestigious Kudu Awards, and a recent innovation award at the SANParks Kruger National Park (KNP) Achievement Awards in February 2019.

This third award recognises the sterling efforts in “changing the game” in the continuing rhino poaching saga, made possible by collaborative efforts with the Kruger National Park, other roleplayers and the College’s donors.  A recent report by the College highlighted that, when responding to incursions with a K9 asset and associated aerial and ranger support, the poacher apprehension rate increases 10 fold!

“We’ve always had faith in our four tiered approach to countering poaching and knew that our innovative combination of free running hounds and aerial support to follow up on incursions would be effective. However, our success is nothing short of a team effort. We are humbled by the Kruger National Park’s faith in us, and every ranger, pilot and dog that works together, often in the most challenging of circumstances, to help keep people and wildlife safe. Conservation is the real winner,” said College CEO Theresa Sowry.

Left to right: Simon, Robynne, Precious, Johan and Pleasure

The Kruger National Park and Associated Private Nature Reserve face daily illegal incursions by poachers targeting rhino, pangolins and other species. The College’s four pronged approach, recognised in this most recent award, combines well trained field rangers, a K9 capability, aerial support and community interventions. It allows for swifter and more effective follow-ups in protected areas, while seeking long term solutions to poaching by working with communities.

“This award affirms that the College is playing a critical role in forging new approaches to counter poaching. Through our ‘learning by doing’ approach, we’re supporting live operations, but also boosting capacity in the sector throughout SADC by training dogs and handlers,” said SAWC CEO Theresa Sowry.

Key donors who have contributed to this success include the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, IFAW, Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, Our Horn is Not Medicine, Tusk Trust, Unitrans Volkswagen, Dallas Safari Club Foundation, Friends of African Wildlife, The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex,  SafariFRANK, the Family Sheldon Trust, Pack Leader Pet Products/Orijen Pet Food, Garmin , Axis Communications as well as the Nelson Pruett Foundation and Rogz Pet Gear.