Celebrating a canine hero

Dog-lovers around the world are honouring their canine companions today, with 26th August pegged as National Dog Day. Whether it’s for the role they play in family life or the life-altering services they provide, dogs have certainly earned their epithet of man’s best friend.

But as a new short film (launched today by Fauna & Flora International) shows, ‘rhino’s best friend’ could be just as apt.

Find out more at www.goodboydiego.com

With stunning footage filmed using a camera mounted on a dog harness, the film features the eponymous Diego – an anti-poaching dog whose speed and agility is proving highly effective in deterring would-be poachers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

Deter, detect, detain

Across their range, rhino numbers are dwindling fast due to illegal hunting for their horns.

Of the two African species, black rhinos in particular have seen a dramatic fall in numbers, from around 100,000 in the 1960s to just 5,000 today, putting them in IUCN’s Critically Endangered category.

While white rhinos have fared slightly better (there are still around 20,000 of these animals left in the wild), one subspecies – the northern white rhino – is down to the last five individuals. Three of these reside at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, including Sudan – the world’s last male.

Diego is one of a number of dogs deployed at the conservancy to protect its wildlife by deterring, detecting and (when necessary) detaining poachers. One dog can do the work of a 70-person search team and can operate in darkness.

Ol Pejeta’s dogs are trained with reward and care, not with aggression, so they do not become a risk to the conservancy’s visitors, remaining fully approachable and under the control of their handlers.

Job done. Credit: Aveling Films/FFI.

Anti-poaching dogs are proving an effective deterrent. Credit: Aveling Films/FFI.

These anti-poaching teams of dogs and handlers, used alongside other intensive measures, are proving extremely effective: Ol Pejeta has not lost a rhino to poaching in over a year, and its growing black rhino population is now the largest in East Africa.

To watch the video, and to find out how you can help support anti-poaching efforts, visit www.goodboydiego.com

View the press release (PDF).