Paramount K9 Solutions, a subsidiary of Paramount Group, the global aerospace and technology company, has trained and delivered five specialist K9s to RIMBA; one specialist anti-poaching operations K9 for the purposes of weapons and ammunition detection and tracking poachers in and around the country’s nature reserves and forests, andfour K9s that are stationed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport for the detection of pangolin scales, ivory and rhino horn.
The new K9 units form part of a larger effort by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Malaysia, in association with RIMBA, to bolster the country’s endeavors to tackle poaching and illegal trafficking in endangered wildlife products.
Director of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, Eric Ichikowitz, stated: “Malaysia has been cited as a vital transit point for smuggling operations of pangolins. We applaud the commitment of the Government in Malaysia, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and RIMBA in applying innovative solutions to address this ongoing crisis threatening not only Africa’s but indeed the world’s wildlife.”
“The Ichikowitz Family Foundation has a strong track record of conservation leadership within Africa having financed and initiated innovative anti-poaching and environmental programmes for nearly ten years. Our anti-poaching initiatives include the donation of surveillance aircraft and other critical equipment to national parks, the provision of training programmes to strengthen the capabilities of counter-poaching units, the implementation of campaigns to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species, and the creation of one of the largest Anti-Poaching Skills and K9 Training Academy’s in Africa.”
One of the largest of its kind in Africa, Paramount’s K9 Academy addresses the ever-increasing need for effective training in order to carry out a wide array of tactical assignments, including anti-poaching activities, wildlife contraband detection, special forces operations and Ranger K9 handler training - all of which have garnered well-documented success rates.
The Ichikowitz Family Foundation (IFF) has previously trained dogs to detect rhino horn and has supported the training of several dogs that routinely check for hidden pangolin scales at many of Southern Africa’s national borders.
There are four species of pangolin in Asia — threatened, much like their African counterparts, by a combination of hunting for food and for use in traditional medicines, with poaching and smuggling largely carried out by organized crime syndicates.
The pangolin is sadly recognized as the most trafficked animal in the world; conservationists have suggested that well over 1 million pangolins have been poached since the year 2000, with ever-growing statistics made available on what is the continued illegal trafficking of pangolins and their scales to meet demand from Asian markets.
In April of 2019, 26 tons of scales en route to Vietnam from Nigeria were found in Singapore, worth an estimated $77 million (approximately 1,900 pangolins make up 1 ton of scales). Similarly in Malaysia’s Borneo state of Sabah, authorities raided a Kota Kinabalu factory and a nearby warehouse, uncovering a syndicate that was dealing in roughly 29.8 metric tons of pangolin, the country's biggest-ever haul of pangolin and pangolin products, according to conservationists and police.
“It is important to take every opportunity made available to us to directly address what has evolved beyond a conservation issue into an all-out war to preserve endangered wildlife. We are privileged to expand our support in the fight against poaching, especially protecting pangolins, to Southeast Asia, joining forces with local stakeholders to find tangible solutions to illegal poaching of pangolins and together endeavoring to rehabilitate this dwindling species,” Ichikowitz concluded.