Unfortunately, only two dogs, Nkonzo and Jungle, are loaded into the plane for Malawi due to space issues. Gabriel Mpala and Norman English meet Sean van Niekerk and the dogs at the airport and then wait another day to pick up AK. Together, all three dogs are transferred to the Nyika National Park. All the new smells and sounds make the dogs very excited and they seem to be raring to start their new job!

Their presence in Nyika will significantly impact the effectiveness of anti-poaching operations. Described by Norman English – Counter-Poaching Unit Coordinator – as the ‘Serengeti up in the mountains’, Nyika National Park is a vast, mountainous terrain that presents a huge challenge to counter-poaching teams. By adding a canine unit to the team of field rangers, they will be able to more effectively track suspected poachers over the difficult terrain

For Peace Parks Foundation, dogs are as much a part of operations as any other staff member, playing a vital role in the Foundation’s multi-faceted Combatting Wildlife Prevention programme. The dog’s sense of smell is between an estimated 10 000 and 100 000 times more sensitive than ours. These wondrous capabilities make the canines perfect for tracking down poachers, as they can detect even the faintest of scent trails in the bush.

The dogs will form part of the quick reaction force that will boost the effectiveness of anti-poaching operations in Nyika. It will give the field rangers the critical support they need. Despite the many challenges caused by the difficult terrain, and those brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, since the start of 2020, Nyika’s rangers have continued to work closely with the Zambian teams to remove more than 300 snares and arrest 24 poachers in 2021.

Under the keen eyes of Gabriel, an expert dog handler and trainer, these numbers are set to increase.

Tune in tomorrow to see Gabriel start training.