In June 2009, Mara Conservancy introduced a tracker dog unit, comprised of two bloodhounds and eight handlers, at the Ngiro-are Outpost, near the Tanzanian border. Mara Conservancy is extrememly grateful to Linda Porter and John Lutenberg from Canine Training Acadamy, Colorado, who volunteered their time and expertise, and spent one month training the handlers.
The tracker dog units, which now consists of six dogs, are pivotal in complementing the anti-poaching unit to reduce poaching and improve security. Areas around the Mara Triangle remain vulnerable to illegal activities due to their close proximity to the Tanzanian border: in the Trans Mara, cattle theft by rustlers from across the border is the most serious ongoing issue.
In the Mara Triangle, poaching for the commercial bushmeat trade is also common, with wildebeest, zebra and Thomson gazelle all regularly targeted by groups of hunters. In 2008, the Mara Triangle lost both lions and elephants to illegal snares, which are indiscriminate in what they catch. Poachers also use spears and bows and arrows to hunt hippo, leopard and other wildlife.
In order to reduce poaching and cattle rustling, arresting all of the individuals within a group is necessary. Since the introduction of the tracker dog units, there has been a higher success rate in arrests by the Conservancy, which will make poaching and rustling a less viable source of income for the local communities and improve security in the region.
With the escalating elephant poaching problem across the nation, Mara Conservancy has added two ivory and firearms detection dogs in August 2013. The two yellow labradors were trained by the Canine Training Academy and sponsored by Anti-ivory NGO “Tears of the African Elephant” in Japan. One dog is stationed at each of the gates into the Mara Triangle to inspect incoming and outgoing vehicles for contraband.