THE PAWS ON THE GROUND: NAMIBIA’S K9 WILDLIFE PROTECTORS
At a base in Waterberg National Park lives a special band of wildfile protectors. With a tough job, and through vigorous training and vigilant operators, this team is one of our country’s most successful contributors to the fight against wildlife crime.
Namibia’s K9 Unit, managed by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, is a highly trained team of canine officers and their handlers dedicated to protecting, Namibia’s wildlife and combating wildlife crime.
The K9 Unit was established in 2005 in response to the increasing poaching of elephants and rhinos in Namibia. Since then, it has grown to become one of the most effective tools in the fight against wildlife crime in the country. The unit is made up of a team of handlers and specially trained dogs who are deployed to wildlife crime hotspots across Namibia.
The dogs in the K9 Unit are specifically trained to detect wildlife contraband such as ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales, as well as firearms and ammunition. The dogs’ sense of smell is many times more powerful than that of humans, making them a valuable asset in the fight against wildlife crime. The dogs are trained to track poachers through the bush, locate hidden wildlife contraband, and even apprehend suspects.
The K9 Unit’s success in protecting Namibia’s wildlife is due in large part to its close collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and wildlife conservation organisations. The unit works closely with the Namibian Police, Customs and Excise, and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to intercept poachers and smugglers. The unit also works closely with conservation organisations such as the Save the Rhino Trust and the Cheetah Conservation Fund to protect endangered species.
The K9 Unit’s success can be seen in the declining poaching numbers in Namibia. Since its inception, the unit has helped to reduce elephant and rhino poaching. The unit’s work has
also led to the successful prosecution of many poachers and smugglers. One of the greatest successes however, is the fact that the unit has been able to pre-emptively foil would-be perpetrators, before they could poach specially protected species.
In 2020, Standard Bank Namibia, donated a fully customised Toyota Land Cruiser V8 to the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism for use by the K9 Unit. The vehicle is equipped with special compartments in which to safely transport the canines to often far-off locations for deployment and has been instrumental in the overall success of the team. “Standard Bank Namibia operates by the brand promise, “Namibia is our Home, We Drive Her Growth”, and contributing to this special project is our way of lending a helping hand to ensure the protection and future existence of Namibia’s pride, our wild animals. Namibia’s wildlife is an integral part of the spirit of our country, as well as the tourism industry which is one of the largest contributors to our economy. Investing in Namibia’s growth also means protecting and nurturing what we already have. We are honoured to be a partner of the ministry and look forward to the positive impact we can have on our country through collaborations such as this”, said Magreth Mengo Head of Marketing.
Namibia’s K9 Unit is a vital tool in the fight against wildlife crime in Namibia. The unit’s highly trained dogs and their handlers work tirelessly to protect Namibia’s wildlife, and their success in reducing poaching numbers is a testament to their dedication and hard work.