The puppy, pictured, was born last week in Italy, and will be trained by ex military UK based dog trainer Daryll Pleasants from charity animalssavinganimals.org As Pleasants says, “As an organisation we try and help only those conservancies most in need with each section requiring two dogs and four trained handlers. The dogs are proving hugely successful with only one rhino poached on Ol Pejeta Kenya in two years and no poaching incidents in seven months at Mkomazi Tanzania since the dogs caught the last bush meat poaching gang.”
The puppy sponsored by Real Africa will be deployed to the area most in need, potentially the border between Kruger in South Africa and Mozambique where the life expectancy of a rhino once it has crossed the border from South Africa is considered to be just 12 hours. The other potential location for the puppy to go to is the Save Valley in Zimbabwe. This 3000km reserve is immensely important to the future of the black rhino. It is home to one of only eight viable black rhino breeding populations in the world. The Save Valley currently has two dogs, ‘Rogue’ & ‘Polaris’ who have completed stage one training and are now about to start operational/deployment training. Stage one training costs £6,500 per dog and covers purchase of puppy, inoculations, food and training for one year consisting of foundation training in search, tracking and bite work. Darryl says, “The dogs work on the front line battling with continuous poaching attempts, the most recent being in August with four poachers caught along with rifles and associated items. On further investigation one of the rifles captured was linked to a shooting in Harare of a woman and eight other rhino deaths.”
Of the five species of rhino worldwide, three species are critically endangered, this includes the Black Rhino. There are only around 5,000 Black Rhino remaining. At the current rate of decline rhino will be extinct in the next 10 years.
The puppy is the first project of the new Real World Conservation Fund and members of the fund will be able to vote on a name for the pup as well as support a range of other wildlife conservation projects through an annual subscription scheme. Membership opens in November 2016 at Real Africa’s fund-raising evening at London’s Royal Geographical Society in aid of Save the Rhino International, with special guests, headline speaker, explorer Benedict Allen, along with rhino conservation experts, dog trainer Daryll Plesants and Save the Rhino Director Cathy Dean. The evening aims to be a celebration of travel with a mix of travel tales and wildlife conservation. Benedict Allen will be explaining how he came to be involved with the charity Save the Rhino, as well as sharing some of his many ‘Close Encounters’ from his travels around the world. The rhino conservation experts will then be giving an inside track on rhino conservation today, new initiatives, an overview of rhino numbers globally and looking at rhino behaviour and the importance of rhino conservation.