Last week, Table Mountain National Park announced the establishment of a first-of-its-kind Sea, Air and Mountain (SEAM) Special Operations Ranger Team to strengthen the safety and security in the Park. At its core is the re-established K9 Unit boasting six new fully-trained K9s (from Paramount K9 Solutions) and a state-of-the-art special operations centre. This new team will cover multiple functions, including visitor safety, search and rescue and illicit wildlife crime such as abalone poaching.
Paramount K9 Solutions’ Anti-Poaching and K9 Training Academy located in Rustenburg trains tracker/sniffer dogs and their handlers for anti-poaching operations, for the protection of endangered wildlife species including elephant, rhino, pangolin and abalone.
The Academy provides anti-poaching reaction unit training, training of handlers and detection dogs for deployment at points of access to game reserves and borders, tracking dogs for field rangers and training special operations dogs for rapid deployment teams.
Eric Ichikowitz, Senior Vice President of Paramount Group stated: “The reality is that poaching is simply no longer solely a conservation issue. Poaching threatens the security and progress of the whole continent as it funds terrorism, insurgents, criminal cartels, human and drug trafficking. It is more than a decade ago that we realised that a man and dog solution was one of the best ways to combat poachers and as a result the Anti-Poaching Training Academy was established. Since then we have grown from strength to strength as the valuable impact of specialist K9 and handler teams became apparent for all to see.”
The SANParks Honorary Rangers through their K9 Project Watchdog National Project, played a key role in the establishment of the SEAM centre through their sponsorship of the K9s, the refurbishment of K9 kennels and trailer, and the training of the rangers. The K9 Project Watchdog national project manages all canine related honorary ranger activity in the national parks.
Moira Shein, Chairperson of K9 Project Watchdog stated: “The illegal wildlife trade not only threatens the survival of entire species, such as Rhinos elephants and abalone for future generations, it also threatens the livelihoods and often lives of many people in South Africa who depend on tourism for a living. Referred to as a “game changer” in the war against rhino poaching, the K9 Anti-poaching unit is proving to be one of the most effective deterrents against poaching. An integral contributor to the success of these units is the support of the SANParks Honorary Rangers.”
Paramount K9 Solutions specialises in the training and deployments of Belgian Shepherd dogs (Malinois), but the Academy also train and deploy German Shepherds, Rottweilers and Bloodhounds. The Malinois were chosen for their sensitive noses, long endurance and ability to operate in extreme temperatures.
Specialist counter-poaching K9 and handler teams trained at the academy have been successfully deployed in national and private reserves across South Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa and as far as Malaysia.
Malcolm Greeff, CEO of Paramount K9 Solutions stated: “We’ve had the privilege to support the incredible work of SANParks’ K9 teams over many years. The establishment of the new SEAM team is another important milestone in the innovative solutions deployed by SANParks to effectively counter poaching in such a multi-threat environment. We are very proud of the many successes of the K9 and handler teams. They are without a doubt one of the best counter measures against the relentless onslaught of poachers.”