In June 2009, a unit of two bloodhound dogs and eight handlers were introduced to Ngiro-are Outpost, near the Tanzanian border. Training took place for one month, and for which we are extrememly grateful to Linda Porter and John Lutenberg from Canine Training Acadamy, Colorado, who volunteered their time and expertise.
The tracker dog unit will be pivotal in its work alongside the anti-poaching unit to reduce poaching and improve security. Due to its close proximity to the international border, areas around the Reserve remain vulnerable to illegal activities. This remains a constant problem in Trans-Mara, where the stealing of cattle by rustlers from across the border is the most serious re-occurring issue.
Poaching for bushmeat is also common in the Mara Triangle, with wildebeest, zebra and Thomson Gazelles all regularly targeted. Snares, however, are indiscriminate in what they catch and in 2008 the Reserve has lost both lions and elephants. Spears, bows and arrows are also used by hunters and in this way, hippos and in November 2008 a leopard was lost.
Only by arresting all of the individuals within a group would it be possible to have an impact on poaching numbers and cattle rustling. Since the introduction of the dogs there has been a higher success rate in the number of men arrested by the Conservancy which will make poaching and rustling a less viable source of income for the local communities and bring improved security to the region.
With the escalating elephant poaching problem across the country, we are importing two ivory and firearms detection dogs in August 2013. The dogs are trained by the Canine Training Academy and sponsored by North Star Ranch in the U.S.A.