Let slip the dogs in rhino poaching war

Toby and Russell, Belgian shepherds trained to hunt down rhino poachers. (Gallo)

Toby and Russell, Belgian shepherds trained to hunt down rhino poachers. (Gallo)

Russell, a Belgian shepherd dog, is the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve's newest weapon against rhino poachers.

Beeld reported on Monday that Russell and his handler walked around the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve in the North West on Sunday – the dog's first day on the job.

He graduated from Mechem in Centurion two weeks ago – a department in Denel which trains sniffer dogs.

Russell's brief is to track down rhino poachers.

"It takes 36 hours before a person's smell disappears from a scene. When we hear gunshots or suspect that there are poachers in the reserve, Russell will track them down easily," said his handler, who did not want to be named for safety reasons.

A total of 281 rhinos have been poached this year, according to numbers released by the environmental affairs department earlier this month.

SABC radio news reported on Monday that another rhino had been killed on a game farm in Hartbeesfontein in the North West. – Sapa

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