A new chapter begins for the CLZ Dog Unit. In August the dogs, two German Shepard’s named Lego and Bar, and their 4 handlers completed an intensive 3-month training course, successfully “graduating” onto operational duty.
With funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to counter the growing threat from wildlife crime, the Community Forests Program, implemented by BCP, is supporting Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to set up a canine detection unit.
Mike Hensman and Jay Crafter from Invictus K9 , an organization dedicated to canine training, spent 3 months working with Lego and Bar and their 4 selected handlers. To pass the training the dogs had to build up an acceptable level of fitness, be able to work around people, be focused and driven enough to track for several kilometres, and distinguish between 5 different scents. The handlers had an equally intensive training that also required them to pass a fitness test, and be able to handle and bond with the dogs.
Following the intensive training the dogs, handlers, CLZ staff and board, and Jay and Mike gathered together to celebrate this notable achievement. The dogs demonstrated their training by locating pangolin scales, ivory, firearms, and ammunition. The graduation further helped instill confidence in the handlers that they are undertaking a big step forward for the conservation and preservation of the Lower Zambezi National Park. Ian Stevenson, the CEO of CLZ, and Jay encouraged the handlers to continue with their fantastic work and pushed for results. Riccardo Garbaccio, the CLZ Chairman further emphasized “This day doesn’t just mark the end of your training, it marks the beginning of your operations and the need for results”.
Fury, the local puppy selected to undergo detection and tracking training was also in attendance and her skills and abilities continue to improve as she bonds with her handler. It’s expected that she will start active duty soon!
In the few weeks following graduation, Lego and Bar have started operations in the field. Already they have been remarkably successful. Recently they were able to detect and help apprehend people who possessed illegal bush meat.
This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.