Whilst staying in Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia, we had the opportunity to be a part of an anti-poaching tracking demonstration and see it in action.
Based at Loisaba airstrip, the anti-poaching unit uses dogs to track poachers and protect the wildlife found in the conservancy. One of the handlers explained to us how they train the dogs, how the process works and what a difference it makes with their presence.
The unit asked for a volunteer for the demonstration. I was happy to see them in action rather than pick my way through the bush and try to hide myself in a bright white top! Another member of our group stepped forward, dressed a little more discreetly than myself.
The dogs were taken away so they could not see where the ‘poacher’ went to hide. With another handler assisting, the ‘poacher’ proceeded to find a suitable hiding spot. As soon as the volunteer was well hidden, the all clear was given to the handler and the dog reappeared.
The dog was given the volunteer’s scent, which was only where they were standing for 10 minutes previously – just a scent from the dust on the floor, no clothing or anything else. Bloodhounds have 40 times more scent receptors than humans, making them extremely well-equipped for anti-poaching work.
The handler places the harness on the dog, indicating to them that it is now time to get to work! Once securely fastened, off they go. The dog handler is on the end of a long lead, but he still gets dragged off at speed. The dog has its nose to the ground, clearly keen to find the poacher, handler in tow. I am not far behind, making sure I keep up the chase. Good shoes are definitely required for this activity as the ground can be prickly if wearing flip flops. After only a few minutes, the ‘poacher’ was found huddled behind a bush.
We all had the chance to meet the dogs, we are very friendly and well looked after. It was an incredible experience to see this in action. I for one was not keen to do the 6km trek that was originally suggested, so please do ensure you vocalise this if you happen to visit these amazing animals in action.
It is clear that Loisaba Conservancy is committed to protecting its wildlife and it is fantastic to see.