Monday, June 29, 2009

Look Out Poachers

The Mara Conservancy has just made a giant leap forward in anti-poaching efforts. Just this week they welcomed eight dog-handling rangers and two new “officers” into their ranks. After an intensive four-week training with two professional dog trainers from the Colorado police department, these dogs are ready to assist the Conservancy and surrounding lodges.

Using their amazing bloodhound sense of smell, the rangers will bring these dogs to poachers’ camps and follow individual tracks left behind as people flee. For Mamusi and Murani (the dogs; meaning “something we’ve been waiting for” and “warrior” in Masai) following the trails left by the poachers is the easy part. For the rangers, keeping up with such strong dogs that enjoy every minute of tracking, is much more challenging.

Jeff and I had the opportunity to follow along on a training exercise and boy can these dogs run! To prepare the rangers for extreme all-night tracking, each ranger had to go through (and continue) rigorous conditioning. This includes running multiple kilometers around the camp daily, all-encompassing weight training, and being able to traverse the nearby escarpment in under seven minutes!

We ran about a mile and a half following the dogs in our practice run, and I cannot imagine what it must feel like during the real thing. Running through the dark of night with no lights, surrounded by grass that is at least eight feet tall, all the time searching for people that you know have no remorse for breaking laws.

After lightly jogging behind these dogs, I know there is absolutely no way I could out-run them in the middle of the night.

Good luck poachers when they are at full speed!


Dana said...

Thanks for including the dogs and telling about this operation on your blog. Is this a photo of their kennel?

I just know some of the poachers have already gotten wind of this--so watch out!

Just a footnote - the correct spelling of their names are Morani and Memusi per my correspondence with Linda Porter:>)

webay said...

what a Cute dog!

Linda Prter said...

Hey guys,

We had such a blast hanging with you both in Kenya and learning about the Hyena's. What an incredible opportunity for us.. Glad you enjoyed the dogs. We think of you and your research often and the fact that you could actually eat boiled goat. Say hi to Will for us and Hana too..

Linda and John

Michigan State University | College of Natural Science