Today on Ranger week, we’re featuring one of Peace Parks Foundation’s newest four-legged recruits, Chicago. She is a proud member of the pack serving as dogs in conservation. You might remember meeting this excitable young pup on Peace Parks TV a few months back when Sean van Niekerk, Peace Parks’ former Counter-Poaching Manager, made his way to the Lesotho border post in South Africa to pick her up.

Chicago was first taken to Limpopo National Park in Mozambique, where she began her training and spent some time getting accustomed to the different scents and sights of the African bush. After impressing the team with her fast-learning capabilities, Chicago is now a wildlife guardian in Zinave National Park, where she forms a part of the quick reaction force. As well as helping to sniff out any illegal activity within Zinave, Chicago’s newest role includes protecting the recently translocated white rhinos. Of course, her good behaviour is always rewarded with plenty of cuddles.

Their strong sense of smell ranges anywhere between being 10 000 to 100 000 times stronger than humans, making them expert trackers. They can also follow a scent that is several days old and because of all this, dogs have proven to be incredibly valuable members of the team out in the bush and one of the most effective force-multipliers in counter-poaching operations. In areas as large as Zinave – over 400 000 hectares – the canine unit is important in helping field rangers to identify and prevent poaching incursions and other illegal activities that may take place within the park’s borders,

With the increase in wildlife numbers and recent historic white rhino translocation, Zinave National Park continues to flourish and shine as one of Mozambique’s flagship protected areas. Keeping these animals safe would not be possible without the help of dogs in conservation, who play a vital role in safeguarding conservation areas like this throughout southern Africa.