Previously on Peace Parks TV, we introduced you to Chicago, who became a proud member of the canine anti-poaching unit in Zinave National Park in 2022. These daring and disciplined dogs exist to make the park a safer place, working wonders in upping security and reducing wildlife crime. 

In this Peace Parks TV episode, we catch up on Chicago’s progress and witness her passion for the job as she sets off on a vital training exercise! 

A Job for the Experts 

Erick Breedt, Peace Parks’ Assistant Counter-Poaching Coordinator in Zinave, explains how a scent trail is laid for Chicago by one of the team, who disappears into the distance and hides. Tracking is done with a long leash keeping her and Erick in contact at all times, as they follow the scent through the bushveld at a steady pace. Chicago finds her target without any trouble, making her job look not only easy but enjoyable too. 

Erick explains that, in a real tracking scenario, Chicago would be part of a bigger team working together to ‘box in’ the suspected poacher, at which point the pace would pick up to close in quickly. This level of effectiveness would be impossible to pull off without our furry friends, but the rangers are equipped with their own special skills. Traversing thick undergrowth and keeping up with these high-drive dogs while staying in contact with the team is a difficult task, but the rangers are tough and highly experienced. Making contact with a poacher requires a safe and appropriate response, for which rangers have received advanced training. 

A Vibrant but Vulnerable Park 

Wildlife crime and illegal logging are threats to biodiversity and the health of ecosystems in these protected areas and put the wildlife at serious risk, and Zinave is no exception. In recent years, Zinave has undergone a remarkable transformation; the once silent landscape is now flourishing and brimming with life.  

The increase of Zinave’s wildlife numbers can be attributed to the dedicated efforts of Peace Parks Foundation and its long-term partner, the Mozambique National Administration for Conservation Areas, who introduced several key species through the process of rewilding. However, as wildlife numbers continue to grow, so too does the risk of poaching so in response, Zinave National Park recently appointed an additional 34 new field rangers, which you can find out more about here

Nothing about anti-poaching operations is easy, or for the faint-hearted. These rangers carry a huge responsibility to put powerful safeguards determined by management teams into practice in this thriving ecosystem, which makes a strong case for the additional support that tracker dogs can bring. Chicago and her pack are making a crucial contribution to combating wildlife crime and helping to protect an extremely precious national park. 

Join us in celebrating the tireless canine counter-poaching efforts underway in the protected areas where Peace Parks operates, and enjoy revisiting Chicago’s early days in the service of wildlife. Stay tuned to Peace Parks TV for more exciting stories from the frontlines!