A Specialised K9 Unit in Action!

Jan , 2021

Photo Credit: Michael Hensman, Invictus K9

After a tragic loss in 2019 of one of CLZ’s K9 warriors, the organisation managed to secure funds to support the expansion of the DNPW/CLZ K9 Unit. Through funding, CLZ was able to bring in two new dogs, more personnel and an in-depth training to enhance the successes of the Unit.

Following the completion of a thorough 4-month training course by Invictus K9, with the new dogs and heightened skill levels under their belts, the men and women of the K9 Unit began operations in and around the Lower Zambezi National Park to help intercept the illegal wildlife trade and bring down mid to higher tier syndicates.

All three dogs have been involved in operations and each dog has recorded successes. Most notably, K9 Bar performed a phenomenal 30km track resulting in an arrest, K9 Hammer indicated on and led to the arrest of a suspect transporting Python Skins and other wildlife products and K9 Kalo indicated on an axe and a person trafficking hippo meat.

Photo Credit: Michael Hensman, Invictus K9

From July to December 2020, the K9 Unit worked in collaboration with the other specialised teams – the Rapid Response Unit and the Investigations and Intelligence Units as well as conducted operations on their own through their improved and sophisticated informer networks. Following the alarming rates of elephant poaching over five years ago, CLZ set up these specialised units in order to work proactively to bring down the poaching in the Lower Zambezi. Over the years, through efforts from all the DNPW/CLZ law enforcement units, the elephant poaching has decreased by 90% from 2016 to 2020. Simultaneously, there has also been an increase in arrests and the confiscations of illegal products. While these exponential successes in the field are protecting the wildlife, there is still need to maintain efforts and ensure continued protection.

The K9 successes from July to December 2020 included the apprehension of 22 poachers and an additional 36 illegal miners during a special joint-effort helicopter operation. The unit has also been responsible for the removal of 4 illegal firearms from the system and the confiscation of 1 piece of illegal ivory, 10 rounds of ammunition and 368 kg of bushmeat. This hard-working team is motivated and will continue to push themselves in the field in order to get results, while the dogs will continue to be trained and taken care of.

Photo Credit: Michael Hensman, Invictus K9

CLZ extends gratitude to IUCN Save Our Species co-funded by European Union, International Elephant Foundation and The Berry Family Trust, Lion Recovery Fund and Adrian Scripps, for funding the K9 Expansion, giving the dogs and handlers the best possible chance to succeed in the field.

This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union through IUCN Save Our Species. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Conservation Lower Zambezi and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN or the European Union.

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