Cumbria Zoo, Dogs 4 Wildlife, Project Rhino, The IFPCP and Bonamanzi Game Reserve launch the ‘Bonamanzi Ranger and K9 Unit’ in a bid to tackle increased incidents of Rhino poaching
Cumbria Zoo, Dogs 4 Wildlife, Project Rhino, The IFPCP and Bonamanzi Game Reserve have announced the launch of the Bonamanzi Ranger and K9 Unit, a brand new collaborative project, which brings four passionate, dedicated and committed organisations together to help fight frontline wildlife crime in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
This is a sustainable long term conservation initiative, bought together with effective collaboration, partnership and team work.
“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”
The four organisations have united for a common cause; the ongoing conservation and protection of one of South Africa’s most bio diverse natural heritage sites. This project will support a new ranger unit, consisting of 2 rangers and 2 dogs supported for an initial 2 year period. Added to the reserves already well-established Anti-Poaching unit and Project Rhinos K9 unit, this addition and level of support offers more boots and paws on the ground to help drastically reduce the areas poaching epidemic.
Darren Priddle, Founder and Director of Dogs 4 Wildlife comments: “Collaboration, partnership, team work and dedication, we feel are the cornerstones for effective long term conservation efforts. A world where people unite for a common goal, a goal that promotes sustainability and the flourishment of the planets remaining wild places.”
Cumbria Zoo Company will be fully funding the 2 ranger’s salaries, Dogs 4 Wildlife are funding the units 2 new dogs alongside the required ranger qualification and certification. Together the IFPCP and Project Rhino will manage the unit’s development and operational deployment, and help oversee its ongoing success.
KwaZulu Natal holds 25% of the remaining world’s population of both black and white rhino. Combined with the biodiversity of the ecosystems contained within the Bonamanzi Game Reserve, supporting the ongoing conservation and protection of this area’s wildlife is of grave importance.
Last year, a total of 451 rhino were poached in South Africa. 327 within government reserves and 124 on private property. At the moment one rhino is killed every 35 hours.
Poaching more than doubled last year in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, the birthplace of white rhino conservation.
Conservationists say poaching syndicates have turned their attention to parks in KwaZulu-Natal province because rhino numbers in Kruger National Park, the previous epicentre of rhino poaching, have been drastically reduced, and private reserves around Kruger are dehorning their animals.
Unless more is done to tackle the wider issue of the illegal wildlife trade, the future looks bleak for the rhinos of KwaZulu Natal.
The two new Bonamanzi Ranger and K9 Unit Handlers started on the 1st of December 2022, which was an extremely difficult time of the year and also a busy time with the festive season. Both handlers have already started their training and have been introduced to the Bonamanzi APU staff and environment that they are going to work in. Several patrols have already been conducted alongside the Project Rhino K9 team as training exercises.
Junior Blom, K9 Project Manager for Project Rhino said, “Snare poaching and increased incidents in KZN with rhino poaching has been devastating. There have been many more incidents and the death of several rhinos have been completely pointless as we have had rhinos shot that have been dehorned four months previously.
“The added increase in rangers at Bonamanzi means there have been an increase in snares being found which is really positive and once the dogs are operational we have huge plans to have zero incidents of snares being laid.
“The K9 handlers are most definitely a great asset to Bonamanzi and have already shown their worth and impact on the reserve. We are moving forward in a positive direction.”
Owner of Bonamanzi, Richard Grantham said “Bonamanzi Game Reserve, a privately owned Big 4 game reserve on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, in South Africa, is both humbled and proud to have been selected by this global non-profit organisation that provides highly trained, quality canines that can be used by anti-poaching units in the fight for conservation.
“It is no secret that our endangered wildlife, part of our natural resources, is under threat and we welcome any assistance that we can get in this regard. These dogs will be used to inspire and motivate the next generation of wildlife protectors. We can’t wait to welcome Dan and Nkosi to their new homes in Africa.”
Jacqui Law, Founder and Director of Dogs 4 Wildlife added: “ We are really excited about this project. Bonamanzi is an extremely beautiful and diverse eco system within SA in KZN that I was fortunate enough to experience last year, I experienced the beauty of the place but also the horrors they are facing with the snare poaching on the reserve. All of us came away from the experience wanting to help them and we have all come together to form this wonderful collaborative effort.
“Nkosi, our Dogs 4 Wildlife Bavarian Mountain hound puppy and Dan, our Dogs 4 Wildlife Malinois will be joining the Ranger and K9 Unit to help in the fight against rhino poaching and we cannot wait to get our dogs over there to start to make a real change.”
Carlie Roodt, Projects Coordinator and Project Rhino Alliance NPC Director said: “ Project Rhino is an organisation which brings together state, community and private game reserves, rhino owners, leader conservation NGO’s and specialist security anti-poaching units all with a common goal of fighting wildlife crime.
“Our dream is ultimately to ensure that black and white rhino populations thrive in KZN and beyond, we are therefore ecstatic to be joining forces with Cumbria Zoo and Dogs 4 wildlife to expand our K9 unit. We are definitely stronger together.”
Karen Brewer, CEO of Cumbria Zoo said: “ We are super proud to be involved in the Bonamanzi Ranger and K9 unit programme. They say some things are life changing and a trip to South Africa last year was certainly life changing for our team.
“ Sometimes there are heroes in this world and sometimes they have two legs and sometimes they have four. We are so proud to be involved in this project and make such a huge change and to see what a difference the rangers make and how the dogs can enhance that.”
Anti-poaching dogs contribute to reducing incidents of poaching by as much as 75%, so the dogs deployed to Bonamanzi will have a huge part to play in the conservation of rhino.
About Dogs 4 Wildlife
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
With a long term committed view to assisting in the protection and continuation of endangered species, Dogs 4 Wildlife are a highly experienced team of knowledgeable, dedicated animal lovers with a commitment to wildlife conservation. With 13 operational dogs across 4 Southern African countries, The Dogs 4 Wildlife K9’s help achieve up to a 75% reduction in poaching numbers
Dogs 4 Wildlife promote, for the benefit of the public and our future generations, the conservation and protection of endangered species and the protection against wildlife crime through:
- Training and establishing skilled, reliable, and highly effective, anti-poaching canine units.
- Advancing the training and equipment of Anti-Poaching rangers.
- Community empowerment projects, to advance the awareness and education of endangered species for the continued protection of biodiversity.
- Providing educational platforms in both the UK and Africa to raise awareness for the plight of wildlife and inspire the next generation of wildlife protectors.