Not for Profit organisation, Dogs 4 Wildlife have launched their very first volunteer program in South Africa, where volunteers from the UK can experience frontline Anti-Poaching & Wildlife Conservation. Proceeds from these programs go directly to both Project Rhino, The IFPCP and Dogs 4 Wildlife’s conservation projects.
The first group of volunteers experienced the program earlier this month with 11 days spent in the African bush, experiencing the very front line of Anti-Poaching.
In conjunction with the IFPCP and Project Rhino, the volunteer experience is like no other, with volunteers gaining the opportunity to learn valuable conservation and Anti-Poaching skills, all whilst supporting critical conservation efforts in South Africa.
The 11 day experience in the African bush with Project Rhino’s K9 unit and the team from the IFPCP, involves working closely with a highly skilled and experienced unit in Africa’s Zululand within the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa, the IFPCP.
Volunteers will gain unrivalled experience with Project Rhinos K9 unit, supported by Dogs 4 Wildlife and will be given the opportunity to help participate in frontline Anti-Poaching efforts on one of the many reserves the unit protects, including a number of Big 5 reserves with the chance to experience the African bush, like no other. This is the frontline of anti-poaching volunteer programmes.
Co-Director of Dogs 4 Wildlife, Jacqui Law, who attended the debut conservation program said: “ The Volunteer project is a life changing and thought provoking experience, igniting a passion to take responsibility for helping to make a difference and to preserve the remaining landscape and wildlife that is left across Africa for future generations.
“We can all play a part no matter how small, together we can make a difference.”
As the IFPC and Project Rhino protect so many different reserves, the experience for volunteers will be diverse to numerous habitats. No other programme offers so much variety of first hand experiences.
The programme covers wildlife identification, animal behaviour and big game tracking skills, plus the chance to learn numerous anti-poaching techniques. Volunteers will also learn the history behind the poaching industry and illicit wildlife trade. Study ecological relationships, wildlife law and bush survival.
Dogs 4 Wildlife work closely with the local area and the local community, aiming to put back in to the schools and communities in KwaZulu Natal and empower the young people to become future wildlife rangers rather than future poachers with a future goal of opening a dog and ranger training centre of excellence in the area in the near future.
The Life Changing Experiences the 11 Day program offers;
- Working closely with an elite anti-poaching K9 unit on the frontline of wildlife conservation across KwaZulu-Natal.
- Involvement with the teams K9 unit, including welfare and husbandry, operational training and deployment. This includes an introduction to the IFPCP’s K9 field ranger course, a SAQA recognised qualification.
- Learn wildlife identification and animal behaviour.
- Bush Survival course and 1 night bush camping.
- Anti-Poaching patrols with the unit, including; searching for snares, checking fence lines, rhino monitoring.
- Tracking Course – learn to read and follow the sign left by both humans and wildlife.
- Anti-Poaching techniques and tactics.
- Experience Zululand Cat Conservation Project. An educational tour getting up close and personal with South Africa’s endangered wild cat species at the Endomeni Lodge.
- Nature enthusiast experience, learn about the diversity of the fauna and flora across KwaZulu-Natal.
- Snake handling experience / Trip to Zulu Croc, Hluhluwe for hands on Crocodile and Snake experience.
- Big 5 Game Drives at many large game reserves under Project Rhino’s protection.
- A whale watching trip at Sodwana Bay to view Humpback Whales.
The volunteer program is hugely important for Dogs 4 Wildlife, Project Rhino and The IFPCP to raise awareness around the critical issue of poaching.
Last year, a total of 451 rhino were poached in South Africa. 327 within government reserves and 124 on private property.
So far in 2022 a total of 259 rhino have been poached for their horn in South Africa in the first six months of 2022.
The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy comments: “Recent trends in rhino poaching show a move away from the Kruger Park to private reserves and KwaZulu-Natal where the majority of rhinos have been killed this year. This makes it all the more important for national government to shift its focus to supporting provincial authorities and private reserves in the war on rhino poaching.”
The number of rhino poached between January and June 2022 is 10 more than the 249 poached countrywide in the first six months of 2021. From January to end of June 2022, 82 rhino were poached for their horns in the Kruger National Park.
2022 Poaching statistics show a loss of 210 rhino on state properties and 49 in privately-owned parks. As indicated, hardest hit during this period is KwaZulu-Natal which recorded a loss of 133 rhino. This is more than triple the 33 rhino killed in the first six months of 2021.
Anti-poaching dogs contribute to reducing incidents of poaching by as much as 75%, so the dogs will have a huge part to play in the conservation of rhinos and many other endangered species.
Non-Profit Organisation Dogs 4 Wildlife aims to provide both quality, highly trained dogs and specialised ranger training for the development of anti-poaching canine units, to protect endangered wildlife. Helping to inspire and motivate the next generation of wildlife protectors, through effective and determined education.
Deploying anti-poaching dogs and K9 units is a crucial part of conservation efforts in Africa.
For more information on the volunteer program please visit https://www.dogs4wildlife.org/volunteer-programmes/