The SAWC CEO, Theresa Sowry recently joined well-known conservationist Ivan Carter on a two-week trip to the United States. The purpose was primarily to meet up with the counter poaching free tracking and apprehension dogs that have been bred in Texas and are being trained for the College, and to fly the College flag at the events organised.

“Accomplished and well-known houndsman, Joe Braman and his staff have done some exceptional work with these dogs, which have been trained on tracking human scent,” said Sowry, who we managed to track down between events. (Using some tracking devices of our own given the time difference and her busy schedule whilst there!)

“It’s been a real whirlwind trip with events being held in different venues in order to help raise funding for various wildlife initiatives and to bring these dogs home to South Africa,” she said. “With Ivan having introduced us to Joe, and following Joe’s visit to the College last year, we are incredibly fortunate to get additional support by way of these dogs,” she added.

On the day of the Texas fundraiser, held at the Braman ranch, the K9 project was shared on cable news.  Other events were hosted in West Palm Beach, in Houston and also at Briar Lakes, a beautiful ranch near Athens, Texas. Here our sincere thanks must be extended to the hosts, Nan and Bill O Leary, Mike and Margit Axelrad and Jack Brittingham.  Flying the “Our Horn is NOT Medicine” flag high at the West Palm Beach event was Andrea Neves.  We cannot thank Andrea, Lee-Anne Davis (the founder of OHNM who is based in South Africa) and other individual US donors enough for their continued support of the SAWC’s counter poaching projects including our aerial surveillance and rhino monitoring and rescue project.

Donors who heard about the project, and who initially generously pledged their support to help bring the dogs to South Africa, include Global Paws who are assisting with the applications for the dogs’ import permit authorisations and who will be assisting with customs pre-clearance prior to the dogs’ arrival. In addition, Global Paws will be paying handling fees on arrival and will be present when the dogs arrive whilst the state vets check the paperwork and provides final clearance.  South African Airways Cargo – introduced to the project via WWF South Africa’s Stephen Wetmore – will be flying the dogs to South Africa. Huge thanks is also extended to Jamie Cowan at EEM logistics in the States for all her assistance.

As part of the process all the dogs will be microchipped, have the necessary rabies vaccinations, blood tests and blood smears following their arrival in South Africa thereafter the samples will be sent to Onderstepoort in Pretoria for testing. The dogs then also need to be taken to a private vet within 10 days of arrival for their health certificates to be done. The bloods tests and health certificate documents then require endorsement by the USDA.

During the visit to the States, meetings were also held with current SAWC donors including Aimpoint and the Dallas Safari Club Foundation. Further funding requests have been submitted; with Aimpoint kindly approving continued support in 2018.

Finally, it must be said that the introductions to parties integral to the project, the trip to the States, together with the fundraising events, would not have been possible without the support and organization of Ivan Carter.  He was instrumental in getting these fundraisers off the ground and in putting together a short 3-minute video on the work of the College. Ivan has, together with his supporter base, also very generously continued to support the College’s four-tiered approach to counter poaching through the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance as well as other key wildlife initiatives through the Raindrop Initiative. Stellar support indeed!

The Southern African Wildlife College’s counter poaching K9 unit was established in 2015 with funding from the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, with further assistance generously being provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to support the unit’s running costs.