Anti-Poaching Dog Handler Robynne Wasas has been working hard with her K9 partner, Calimero, in Kruger Park to protect the rhino from poachers. Calimeros upkeep is sponsored by Trellidor Nelspruit, Hazyview and Tzaneen.
Robynne recently sent us an update on what she and Calimero have been up to:
What an incredible few months and weeks it has been here with my K9 Calimero. We have gone from training out in our back yard, the sometimes dangerous bush of the Timbavati to conducting luggage and parcel checks in and around OR Tambo International Airport where Calimero positively identified a parcel from Malaysia which we suspect contained Rhino Horn powder but unfortunately have yet to hear back from Customs to confirm the substance.
Both of us have been put through our paces in the past few weeks with K9 Law Enforcement Company and Vapour Wake K9 South Africa. Vapour Wake K9 is the newest detection technology where K9s are trained to smell body worn explosives in response to the on-going terror attacks across the world. Training with the elite such as these trainers, handlers and K9s has given Calimero and I a new confidence in our work and we have returned to the Control Gate of the Timbavati with fire and drive to catch those terrorising our wildlife and natural resources.
Since our return from JHB we been successful in stopping people who have not declared their firearms at the gate and this is also helping to prove his skill. Word is quickly spreading into the communities and into the different reserves. Detection K9s are not to be messed with. Smelling out 1 trillionth of a molecule in the air, I can guarantee if someone is trying to transport any type of firearm, ammunition or rhino horn we are going to find it.
Something I have had a lot of fun with lately is training Calimero with distractors. These can range from biltong (which dog/human doesn’t like a bit of biltong?!) to smelly socks, diesel soaked cloths, toothpaste and much more.
Basically the idea behind this is to expose him to as many different scents that could throw him off or confuse him. I am proud to announce my K9 will most certainly not eat your McDonalds Burger or Biltong in your vehicle and this will also not stop him from smelling out a firearm or rhino horn.
We were invited to do a demo for Southern Cross Schools in Hoedspruit last week and got a roaring response from all the children. Calimero also thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiastic applause and cheer from the crowds when he correctly indicated on a substance. Hopefully we were able to show all the younger generations that there are many career options out there and that working alongside animals could be the future of Wildlife Protection.
Besides coming back fully certified and more confident I will never forget the incredible opportunity of working with other K9s including attack and patrol dogs. Using a bite arm is no joke and the long lasting bruises are proof that you have to be crazy to try run from one of those guys. I also got to work with our new K9, Condor. He is a German Shephard who is sponsored to us by EWT. He will be joining us up here in a few weeks and will make our search hours stretch that much further as currently one dog is not enough. Calimero is not a machine and cannot work 24 hours a day therefore the excitement of getting another K9 is felt by all involved in this program.
A huge thank you again for the monthly donations, I cannot tell you enough how important having our K9s on specialized performance food is and it makes a great impact on the energy that he brings to his searches, so thank you all very much!