When we talk of conservation and the survival of a species it is generally looked at with a view towards preservation for future generations. However, if the poaching epidemic continues at its current rate we will see the demise of the African elephant and black rhino within ten years. Man has systematically brought these species to the brink of extinction and with this in mind perhaps it is time to let animals assist in their protection and continuation.
puppies to protectors
So let me introduce 'Bandit', He was one of eleven donated by the Mrs Bimbi Dyer to us with the sole purpose of being trained as an anti poaching dog and serving conservation. very quickly after arrival we began training and started the classification process deciding which puppies would take on which role be it tracker, triple role, search or apprehension.
On arrival at Mkomazi Bandit was teamed with his new handler a quietly spoken strong willed ranger called 'Penyelli'. Although having no handling experience the pair grew quickly in knowledge and experience and now six months on they are an effective part of the parks anti poaching team. The bond between Bandit and Penyelli now is unbreakable. As a handler myself speaking from personal experience, there is nothing more satisfying than witnessing man and dog working together in harmony to achieve an objective. That objective being 'Animals saving Animals'.
Unfortunately a terrible twist of fate saw the recent passing of Bandit. Whilst out for a walk with Penyelli Bandit was bitten by a black Mamba and although being given immediate medical attention died shortly afterwards from the bite. As you can appreciate Penyelli was devastated and for the conservancy It was a tragic end to a dog that was a dedicated and brave anti-poaching dog.
No anti poaching dogs have been killed or injured whilst on deployment and we are very proud of the fact that in the last two years no Rhino have been successfully poached on conservancies that have ASA operational dogs.
Bandit was very special .He immediately showed a willingness to please but always had a look in his eye that said 'were going be a partnership not a dictatorship' a mutual respect which still remains to this day. He was classified 'Infantry Patrol', trained to patrol with his handler and indicate on the presence of a poacher up to 1km away in favourable conditions and then silently lead the handler in his direction. If needed to Bandit will then chase and apprehend through biting any part of the body and holding. Bandit will also indicate and lead in the direction of gunfire as it extremely difficult to locate direction through human ears if only a few shots are fired in the bush. In October Bandit as did all his brother and sisters passed out from their training and it was decided that he was to be donated to Mkomazi National Park under the direction of Mr Tony Fitzjohn OBE along with his sister 'Chocolate' who was classified Tracker/Apprehension.