Dogs trained in Wales help fight rhino poaching in Africa

By Ben Frampton
BBC News

media captionDogs trained in Wales are now working in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Dogs trained in Carmarthenshire are helping fight the slaughter of rhinos and elephants by poachers in Africa.

Extremus Dog Training in St Clears works with charity Animals Saving Animals in the conservation effort.

It has seven dogs in Africa and is training puppies Badak, Murwi and Diego to join them.

Director Darren Priddle said: "Dogs are a massively-important part of conservation - they offer a very good visual and physical deterrent."

After 12 months of training in Wales, dogs get further training in Africa with Animals Saving Animals, which works with conservation rangers.

The dogs wear body armour to help protect them from armed poachers and Mr Priddle said no dogs have been injured or killed on duty.

image source, Extremus Dog Training
image source, Extremus Dog Training

To help prepare them for the unfamiliar wildlife they will encounter, dogs are taken to nearby Folly Farm where they get to see and smell lions, rhinos and giraffes so they are not surprised once they arrive in Africa.

The animals are trained to direct wardens towards poachers. If an elephant or rhino carcass is found, the dogs sniff the scene to pick up a scent.

They can also detect gunpowder and ammunition as criminals often leave a stockpile of weapons to return to.

Mr Priddle, who runs Extremus with partner Jacqui Law, said: "Above and beyond anything, it's a massive thing that humanity across the world has to look at because in 10-15 years you are going to have a potential extinction-level event of Africa's rhinos and elephants and that is a major issue we all have the ability to help stop."

image source, Extremus Dog Training

Two dogs, Belgian Malinois Rogue and Polaris, recently tracked a team of poachers in Zimbabwe who promptly fled, leaving a behind a cache of weapons the animals found.

Mr Priddle said he was "massively proud" of the part they played in conservation.

Once out on patrol, the dogs can cover nearly 10 miles (16km) before they need a break and Mr Priddle said they can hit a top speed of more than 30mph (50km/h) when pursuing a target.

"I would imagine 99.9% of poachers are going to, upon sight of the dogs, instantly give up," he added.

"In the interest of their own personal safety it's not going to be beneficial for them to try and outrun one of the anti-poaching dogs. There is no chance a poacher is going to outrun one of these dogs."

image source, Extremus Dog Training
image captionThe dogs run through smoke as part of their training

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