Manyoni founded its very own K9 unit in 2022. Although we have had the Project Rhino KZN K9 unit on call, we very quickly realized the need for our own K9 unit. Reaction time plays a critical role in the success rate of operations.
We were lucky enough to secure a very generous sponsorship from Global Conservation Force. The GCF is a non profit organisation from America that assists conservation entities across the globe with funding, training and equipment.
The GCF have assisted us with two tracking dogs and our first arrival was Thor. On the evening of the 10th of May, Thor, Manyoni’s very first addition to our newly founded K9 unit, arrived and was collected at OR Thambo International Airport. He flew in all the way from the Netherlands with his trainer Wesley Visscher from Scent Imprints For Dogs. Thor is a Bavarian Mountain Hound and specializes in tracking human and pangolin scent. Thor will be used as an instrumental part of Manyoni’s Pangolin Project. With routine pangolin tracking training sessions we have been amazed by his capabilities. The goal is to identify areas with fresh signs of pangolin and have Thor assist us in finding pangolin that have lost their tags, or whose tags have stopped working. Thor has already had successful pangolin tracking operations since he has been deployed to the Park.
While doing Thor’s handover training, Thor’s trainer Wesley Visscher oberserved very good drive in the Security managers dog, Veela, and encouraged us to train her. Veela is a German Short Haired Pointer (GSP), and she surprised us with how quickly she understood the training. We trained with both dogs for the 9 days that Wesley was with us, and have been doing weekly training ever since. The dogs are maintaining high success rates with the training and we are pleased with their results.
In the first week of August, Rolo joined us. He is a Dutch Sheperd that is trained to track human spoor. He was donated to the reserve by our partners Global Conservation Force. Rolo was born and bred in South Africa, and trained by Kilo 9 Academy. Josh Gilson, one of Rolo’s trainers, came up to Manyoni for the handover and integration training, spending almost three weeks with us. The guards and handlers spent this time gaining experience and knowledge regarding operational tactical tracking and man trailing.We continue to do training weekly and the handlers are showing growth and progress. They continue to build the bonds with the K9’s and are learning to read the behavioral signs that the dogs provide.