Go, Dog, Go! South Africa Is Sick of the Rhino Poachers

Bloomberg - Go, Dog, Go! South Africa Is Sick of the Rhino Poachers

November 2014

Strapped into a black nylon harness, Venom abseils from a helicopter 100 feet to a bush clearing below.

The two-year-old Belgian Shepherd’s master Marius slides down in tandem and unclips his ward. Then the dog races across the grass and tears down a man wearing a felt-stuffed bite suit.


Venom is part of an army of dogs being trained as South African defense company Paramount Group’s contribution to fighting the poachers in South Africa, home to most of the world’s rhinos. Prized for their horns, which are used in Asian traditional medicine, a record 1,020 rhinos have been slaughtered in the country this year, triple the number three years ago.

The Malinois, as the breed is also known, “can work in extreme conditions,” Henry Holsthyzen, who runs Paramount’s K9 Solutions dog academy, said at a presentation of the year-old school yesterday. “It’s been proven useful in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s high energy, highly intelligent and very fast. It’s an awesome package.”

Rhino horns are made of the same material as human hair or finger nails, yet is more valuable than gold by weight. Prices for a kilogram range from $65,000 to as much as $95,000 in China and Vietnam, where consumers buy them in a powdered form to ingest as a supposed cure for cancer and to try improve their libido.

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