The Greater Kruger Animal Protection Unit | The Royal Portfolio

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11 December2018

by Greg Cooke

A highly specialised unit dedicated to preserving our precious wildlife through strategic counter poaching operations.

The Greater Kruger Animal Protection Unit (GKAP) is one of the fastest growing counter poaching units in the Greater Kruger region of South Africa. This highly specialised unit is made up of several remarkably capable dogs trained in counter poaching activities, and a team of armed, special force handlers, many of whom have seen military action and have undergone intense counter poaching training.

Royal Malewane is also a founder member of the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Foundation (“GKEPF”) which is a unique anti-poaching initiative. The founders include, The Kruger National Park (“KNP”), Peace Parks, World Wildlife Fund and the Association of Private Nature Reserves (“APNR”). Royal Malewane is located within the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve which forms part of the APNR.

The GKEPF ‘s objective is to protect all wildlife in the central Kruger, the APNR reserves to the west and the private game reserves to the east of central Kruger in Mozambique. The GKEPF adopts a holistic approach to a problem that cannot be solved by individual reserves or lodges acting independently.

The GKEPF’s initial mandate is to protect wildlife in its natural state. In addition, the GKEPF will play an active role in combating the illegal international trade in wildlife. While good work is already being done in this regard by the South African Police, Interpol and the FBI, GKEPF will ensure greater resources are allocated to this effort.

GKAP is an anti-poaching initiative of the Thornybush Private Game Reserve with a special anti-poaching headquarters set up on the reserve. All activities are monitored by a control room at those headquarters.

While GKAP is based in the Thornybush region, the unit is on standby 24/7 to assist in counter poaching initiatives throughout the Greater Kruger area. This highly specialised unit can be transported by light aircraft or helicopter to remote areas throughout the Greater Kruger area. By pooling the resources of various private and public initiatives, counter poaching patrols can now cover larger areas and unite against a common enemy and the detrimental effects poaching has on our wildlife and environment.

Thanks to the support of generous donors, GKAP is growing quickly. The unit currently consists of a number of expert handlers as well as these incredible dogs:

Aussie

Aussie is a 2 year old Weimaraner and was trained by an expert, ex-military K9 trainer. This beautiful Weimaraner was sponsored by one of the regional landowners as a puppy. Aussie has been trained as a detection dog, to be utilised to search vehicles and people for firearms, ivory and rhino horn. Being a Weimaraner, Aussie will also be trained and have the ability to track.

Bere

Bere is a Bloodhound/Doberman cross and came from a very successful litter bred by Gaven Holden Smith. Bere is almost 3 years old now and has promising potential. His siblings immediately made a big impact in the Kruger National Park with some long distance trailing of poachers which led to the arrest of numerous criminals. One of the advantages of these dogs is that they can take a fairly cold spoor and track the scent over incredibly long distances.

Bere is trained to follow the scent of cold spoor of up to 7 hours old, making him a highly capable tracking dog. These dogs have been known to track down poachers over a distance of 21km, a clear indication of their heightened and highly specialised tracking abilities.

Justice

Justice is a Belgian Malinois and joined GKAP as a fully trained attack dog. He was sponsored by Wildlife Protection Solutions and will have his full accreditation before the year end.

Justice is also trained to search vehicles, buildings & humans for firearms, animal products like ivory & rhino horn, and has been trained in handler protection should the scenario require.

 

Murphy

Murphy, one of the latest additions to GKAP, is a young Belgian Malinois sponsored by a generous Australian couple visiting the area.

Murphy will be trained as a protection, detection & attack dog. She will be locally trained and will be used by the management of the reserve to search vehicles, buildings & humans for firearms and animal products like ivory & rhino horn.

Trixie

Trixie is a one year old Belgian Malinois and arrived on our reserve as a 10 month old, partially trained attack dog. Trixie is currently undergoing his final training and will be deployed in the field within the next 8 weeks with his handler.

Belgian Malinois are extremely protective over their handlers and will fight with all their strength to protect them, making them brilliant and remarkably loyal companions in the bush.

Both handlers and their dogs need to be physically fit and strong, patient and confident, responsible, alert and observant. Handlers need to be able to work with and understand their dogs, as well as care for them and develop a tight bond that allows the unit to work in synergy during operations.

GKAP Wish List

None of these initiatives would be possible without the valuable patronage of our guests and their interest in the broader impact of tourism and conservation in Africa. After witnessing our magnificent wildlife and visiting these conservation projects, many guests generously contribute vital funds and as such we have compiled a Wish List:

  • 4×4 vehicle
  • GPS Dog collar tracking device & remote  x 2
  • Dog control collar & remote x 2
  • Recon binoculars (10 x 42) x 1
  • Tactical night vision equipment
  • 3 x 1 man tents
  • Vehicle spotlight x 2
  • Torches x 3 (rechargeable)
  • Handheld GPS x 2
  • Android cell phone x 2
  • Radio spare batteries x 2
  • Solar battery charger
  • Trail cameras
  • Covert detection system

For enquiries and further information on the GKAP unit, or to make a donation, please contact Tom Coetzee on warden@rawifi.co.za

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