Meet Larry, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois, who is based with the Big Game Parks in Swaziland. Larry has been especially trained as an attack and tracker dog in the war against rhino poaching. He is highly intelligent and is one of the most attentive and powerful dogs that I have met.
During a refresher training session where he had to tackle a “suspect” on command, Larry moved with such speed and power that he sent the “suspect” (who was fortunately well kitted out in protective clothing) flying a good two meters into the air and on landing was flung around until Larry was called off by his handler. As part of the refresher training, Larry also had to run and follow a spoor at speed and was so effective that his handler had difficulty in keeping up in the bushveld vegetation.
Anti-poaching dogs are now playing a crucial part in the war against rhino poaching and are game-changers that assist the rangers in tracking down and tackling poachers that are located. The bond between the dogs and their handlers is extremely close and the handlers regularly stop to rest and water their four-legged companions and partners during extended anti-poaching patrols.
This project is carried out in partnership with the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA) that provides support, networks and representation for game rangers across Africa. This conservation photography project will use rangers as the “lead characters” to highlight the issues faced by conservationists and showcase opportunities for improved support of rangers in the future. Positive and targeted messages will be communicated that emphasise the critical role that rangers play in African conservation in ensuring that the continent’s natural heritage is preserved for the benefit of future generations. Support Africa’s Rangers by supporting the GRAA.
Peter Chadwick is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) whose mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. The iLCP’s goal is to use the art of high-quality photography to encourage people to take action in support of tangible and meaningful conservation measures.
Visit African Conservation Photography for a full gallery of Ranger images.