This article originally featured in The Skylark’s newsletter and was written as a condensed news in brief.
South Africa is home to around 80% of the world’s last remaining rhinos. Between 2008 and 2018, over 8,000 were poached for their horns, of which over half that were killed came from Kruger; the countries signature national park.
Enforcement teams in Kruger are only arresting 3 to 5% of known poachers; an ineffectively low but average achievement rate. Part of the anti-poaching effort involves using pairs of handlers and dogs, which remain on leads. But this does little to improve the statistics as the pairs cannot keep up with the fleeing poachers.
In May 2018, a unique bloodline of aggressive free-running pack dogs from Texas, historically used by law enforcement to track down escaping prison inmates, were bred and employed to target rhino poachers.
Free to chase within competitive packs, they corner poachers quickly until an arresting force can catch up.
The new strategy has seen 145 poachers caught in the last 18 months; a 54% increase and 10 fold improvement.