Documentary Profiles K9 Anti-Poaching Units in Kruger and Elsewhere

Making Contact: A K9 Conservation Series is a five-part mini-series celebrating and portraying K9 anti-poaching units in South African nature reserves.

The series was created by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and launched on July 11. “Ninety-five percent of our poaching arrests are made with the help of tracker dogs,” said Johan de Beer, K9 officer in Kruger National Park (KNP).

Today, Hill’s Pet Nutrition sponsors over 46 dogs in KNP’s K9 unit, two in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and 14 in other parks across the country. “This heartwarming series not only recognizes the incredible role these dogs play in protecting our natural heritage, but also their incredible handlers who, through their commitment to working with dogs, are making a real difference in the fight against poaching,” said Dr Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Affairs Manager for Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

A ranger and a member of the K9 unit at the KNP K9 center.
> Photos: Casey Pratt, Love Africa Marketing

The series tells the personal stories of five of the dogs and their handlers; the camaraderie, perseverance and connection between them, and the important connection to our natural environment. It also raises awareness of key organisations, protected areas and individuals on the ground who are all working together to protect our natural heritage.

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“There are substantial costs associated with the training, feeding and health of the K9 unit dogs and Hill’s Pet Nutrition has proudly sponsored the units with food, equipment and health care. over the past decade,” Fyvie said. De Beer said this generous, ongoing donation is a huge help in training and nurturing these dogs so they can perform at their best.

“We hope that by highlighting the work these dogs do, the South Africans will help us keep paws and boots on the ground and expand our K9 units. “The K9 Anti-Poaching Unit is seen as a game changer for SANParks,” De Beer said. Since its establishment in 2012, the KNP unit has grown from three dogs to 46.
Following great success, the project was extended to other national parks, with a total of 60 dogs now working across the country.

The bond between a ranger and the dogs of the K9 unit.

“Well-trained dog breeds such as the Bloodhound, Belgian Shepherd and Malinois are perfectly suited to tracking poachers and detecting firearms, ammunition and wildlife products entering and exiting park gates” , said De Beer. The full series can be viewed by visiting www.hillstransforminglives.co.za/making-contact.

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In collaboration with Hill’s Pet Nutrition, South Africans are called upon to help keep paws and boots on the ground by donating to K9 Anti-Poaching Units.
Donations can be made to www.sanparksvolunteers.org/k9-project-watchdog-donations-form with all proceeds going to SANParks K9 Unit and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife K9 Units.

“Helping to protect and conserve our planet and wildlife is of global importance to Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Wilderness areas and their inhabitants are where we go to keep our spirits alive, and these must be preserved for generations to come,” said Fyvie.

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