Canine Unit Handlers Receive Certification from American Society of Canine Trainers
In the ten months since the canine unit opened, trust between the dogs and their handlers has grown stronger with every training exercise and play session, creating an unbreakable bond that makes each pair ever more effective. Their hard work and dedication was recently recognize when the entire team received an International Conservation K9 Certification from the American Society for Canine Trainers – an accolade few canine unit handlers in Africa have been awarded.
The Canine Unit has been operating live for several months and have successfully worked with the Special Operations Group to apprehend poachers on a number of occasions. Led by Mugoye Rugatiri, who he says he would happily do his job unpaid because he loves the work and the dogs so much, the handlers are continuously enthusiastic about the program and their critical role in preventing poaching in the ecosystem. As the wildebeest migration nears the poaching threat is known to increase and thus the Canine Unit is on standby to deploy at any time.
To achieve success in preventing poachers from actually poaching the unit works very closely with the other branches of the Anti-poaching and Law Enforcement Department where operations are linked to innovative technology in the form of camera traps and a Domain Awareness System, as well as a network of informants that provide invaluable intelligence on poacher movements.
While the need for such a large and complex anti-poaching strategy is saddening, it is also the unfortunate by-product of successfully transforming the ecosystem of the area. Before the Grumeti Fund was established, these concessions adjacent to the Serengeti National Park were desolate and devoid of wildlife. Lack of management combined with uncontrolled hunting had decimated the area, destroying what should have been a thriving natural habitat for these animals. Over the last 15 years, under the protection of the Grumeti Fund, wildlife has rebounded and populations such as elephant and plains games have quadrupled.
The success of the Grumeti Fund Canine Unit would not be possible without the generosity of the donors who identified the value of this program and who have continued to contribute ongoing support for these special dogs and their dedicated handlers.
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