One of the largest project we have undertaken was the construction of a six dog anti-poaching unit at Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Managed by African Parks we financed the construction of the kennels, training facilities and compound and the purchase and training of two dogs. By doing so we triggered additional funding from the European Union for the additional four dogs to bring the unit up to full strength.
We donated the funds at the end of 2018 and by the end of March 2019 the dogs were in the Park having finished stage 1 of their basic training. The next stage required them to work with their handlers who had been selected from the existing Park Rangers. They trained in the Park on tracking and learning the scents they would be hunting out. They were deployed to roadblocks around the park and were immediately successful in the detection of bush meat and Pangolins, including the recovery of a living one.
Sara and I were invited by African Parks to visit Garamba in Autumn 2019 to meet the handlers and their dogs and watch them as they worked on road blocks and to accompany them as they trained in the Park. Their training was almost complete and now in 2020, just 15 months after the money was transferred, the dogs are working on the front line, tracking incursions by poachers into the Park and helping make the lives of both the elephants and the rangers safer.