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EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by Elize Parker for the Lowvelder

The SANParks Honorary Rangers, the official SANParks volunteer organisation, has been tasked with assisting SANParks to raise funds for the anti-poaching dog unit, and this is where field guide Jaco Buys would like to help.

In a message posted on the SANParks – Kruger National Park Facebook group, which has over 40,000 members, Jaco called on the community to contribute to the anti-poaching operations in the Kruger.

“Often people say that they want to help, or that they are frustrated that they cannot assist in anti-poaching,” said Jaco. But there is a way for the public to jump in – and that is Jaco’s challenge – he is calling for the Facebook crowd to help sponsor a tracking dog for the dog unit in the park – bringing together two passions – a love for the park and the conservation of rhinos.

©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears
One of Kruger’s tracking dogs – a bloodhound/doberman cross ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears

Jaco makes a living by working as a field guide in the park and he would like to give something back, explaining: “I am not a field ranger and can, therefore, not assist in anti-poaching. The best I can do is to find a way to positively contribute to their cause.”

His previous project to help the dog unit has already borne fruit. The Lowveld Honorary Rangers region, together with Bruce Fordyce and his organisation, Parkrun, recently raised ZAR25,000 during a fundraiser, which was handed over to the park’s canine unit.

“My sympathies lie strongly in the unit and their teams. Their work goes on. Once they have arrested a poacher, there is perhaps a night they might feel good. The next day begins the next challenge. They really need our help and support, ” says Jaco.

Jaco Buys doing the job he loves ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears
Jaco Buys doing the job he loves ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears

Jaco says that the funds raised will be used to buy a specially bred and trained track dog, which costs R30,000. One of these bloodhound/doberman crosses has already let to the arrest of eight poachers in the past three weeks.

In his challenge to the engaged Facebook group, Jaco said the group will be afforded the opportunity to name the dog and those who have contributed will be kept up-to-date on the dog’s progress. “It should be a dog name that commands respect,” says Jaco. “No names like Poochie – the name needs to be strong, the name needs to instill fear.”

The canine unit makes a significant contribution in the fight against rhino poaching ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears
The canine unit makes a significant contribution in the fight against rhino poaching ©Ravi Gajjar for Rhino Tears

“I believe that, as South Africans, we can be better, we can affect change positively and we can channel our energies positively. I challenge all the members of this group, as a fellow passionate South African, to assist our anti-poaching units, by physically contributing to the cause,” concludes Jaco.

To take on Jaco’s challenge and help fund a tracking dog for the anti-poaching unit, email Dalene Preston on vhr@honoraryrangers.org. International donations can also be made by using the following link: https://www.givengain.com/cause/2552/campaigns/9324/ and should be followed up with an email with the reference “VHRDOG + your initials and surname” so that the team can ensure the donation goes to the intended project.

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