Hope for rhino orphans with arrival of new tracking dog

© Sean Viljoen. Conservation Film Company.

After 18 months of intensive training, a tracker dog who can sniff out baby rhinos, has arrived on South African soil after a long journey from Texas, USA. Ruby arrived in late July 2019 and is joining the Southern African Wildlife College’s (SAWC) K9 Unit and its accomplished team of counter-poaching hounds.

Ruby is a purebred golden bloodhound hand picked by expert dog trainers in Texas. They have worked with her exceptional nose to ensure she can do a very special job in South Africa; sniffing out orphaned baby rhinos. Orphaned rhinos often wander for days, dehydrated and vulnerable to predators, when their mothers are shot for their horns. Saving them is a priority and all involved are very excited to have this new capability to work with in the field.

“Using the scent of captive rhino in the United States, her trainers have no doubt she will thrive in her new environment in the Greater Kruger Park,” said College CEO, Theresa Sowry, who was on hand to welcome the new arrival.

The College’s K9 Unit has made a significant impact on the success of counter-poaching operations, particularly since the arrival of its free-tracking pack dogs, also originally from Texas. Forming part of a highly capable team, their first 18 months in operation have flown by and they have been recognised with a number of prestigious awards honouring their role in conservation.

Ruby, being trained specifically to track the scent of rhino calves, will only amplify the success of the unit in the counter-poaching field, adding enormous value to the growing team on the ground in South Africa.

A mother and baby White Rhinoceros captured by Shannon Wild.

The SAWC extends its sincere gratitude to the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance (ICWCA) for their continued support of the K9 Unit, and who in the case of Ruby the bloodhound, have generously sponsored her safe and sound travel from Texas to South Africa.

About the SAWC

The Southern African Wildlife College is based 10 km west of the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Established in 1996, it is a non-profit organization delivering conservation education as well as training and skills development programmes to help conserve the region’s rich biological diversity and ensure that its threatened species are conserved and protected. In doing so, the College, which is an accredited higher education and training facility, provides tomorrow’s conservation leaders, field rangers and the community with the skills needed to become partners in saving the continent’s natural heritage.


Media enquiries

Jeanné Poultney

Executive Manager: Marketing and Fundraising


Tel: +27(11) 7044386

Mobile: +27(82) 4582845

Email: jpoultney@sawc.org.za

SAWC Direct Line: +27 (15) 7937300

SAWC Website: www.wildlifecollege.org.za


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Account name: SAWC – Tracker Dog Unit

Account number: 330451995

Account type: business current account

Branch name: Hoedspruit

Branch code: 052752

Registration number: 1996/005726/08