K9 Unit Update – March 2023

Our total training hours have now reached a total of 220 hours with the addition of training that has commenced in the Kruger National Park as well. Beginning our training at our new Satellite K9 Unit near Skukuza has proven highly beneficial with having access to the SANParks helicopter for training purposes. Unfortunately, the official launch of the Skukuza Satellite Unit was postponed due to the heavy rains and inability to access the area, but we look forward to it being rescheduled in the near future.  

We were visited by Garmin this past quarter who supplied us with 24 new, and much needed, tracking collars and four new handheld GPS’s. This was much appreciated as together with our 17 older collars and GPS’s, we now have enough collars for each dog in Skukuza and at the College. Thank you, Garmin! 

We were also sponsored with 10 dog beds by Hound Sleeper for our new Skukuza satellite campus. We are so grateful for this, and the dogs could not be happier! 

Our training approach this year has been slightly adjusted to incorporate breaking the dogs up into smaller pack groups. This is done to see if we can get them to track more independently and think for themselves, instead of relying on the other dogs. This should lead to an even more effective and efficient pack. 

During this period, we also had two students from Zinave National Park in Mozambique attend the Dog Handler and Tracking courses at the K9 Unit in February. The training took four weeks and started on 3 February 2023. Lusbemarmando Romao and Miquelda Maria Nhavche, who are both field rangers have now returned back home keen to put their newly acquired skills into practice, which will help their teams back home. 

We are also happy to announce that another successful litter of puppies are now officially part of the pack. They have just turned two months old and have already started their socialisation and basic training. We have set them on about 20-meter tracks which they are already sniffing out very well – it may not sound like much, but for them that is quite a distance!  

Johan van Straaten, our Dog Master was also delighted that the K9 unit was the recipient of a financial award made to the unit by the Chamberlain Foundation. Our sincere thanks is extended to them for this unexpected but much valued support. 

Overall, we have had a great start to 2023 and are really looking forward to the year ahead. We will be sure to keep you updated with how the puppies are doing and any new training, sponsorships and events that happen in the next few months.  

Finally, we are also very excited that Pack Leader Pet Products, suppliers of Orijen dog food that keeps our dogs in tip top condition, have gone live with their K9 campaign.  Filmed at the College the campaign Nourished with ORIJEN – fuelled by nature, to protect nature underpins the importance of our dogs being well nourished to enable them to do the work they do.