• "Ella is a game changer in our efforts to protect rhinos"

Dog detection is now being used to help save the rhino

Ella Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Ella is celebrating a successful first year as lead tracker dog, helping to protect endangered rhinos from poachers.

She is the first cold scent dog to work with anti-poaching units in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

She has been trained specifically to work on crime scenes which are more than a day old and can follow poachers’ tracks to determine their entry and exit points to reserves, as well as their shooting positions.

During her first year, none of the reserves where Ella has been active have lost a single rhino!


Follow my pawsteps #MedivetRhino


A Big Thank You

The cost of training Ella, her handler, support vehicle and accommodation has all been funded by the Medivet Rhino program and by the generous donations of Medivet clients, through the Pennies digital charity box scheme.

To date, Medivet Rhino has raised more than £315,000 via Pennies to help fund this rhino protection program.

For more information about Pennies, the digital charity box, click here.

Puppy Parties

By attending one of our free puppy parties and choosing to make a donation, you have joined the fight to save the rhino. Your generous donations have helped make this possible. 

One of our senior partners, John Smithers, visited South Africa to spend time at the reserve with the tracker dogs.

“It is extremely well run, and our funds are undoubtedly helping to protect their rhinos. The dogs have tracked a number of potential poachers and assisted in their apprehension, and are proving to be a strong deterrent in their own right.”

The Wilderness Foundation Africa is supporting Rhino Protection Dogs in one of the most important places of refuge for rhinos. Donations from our Medivet Saving the Rhino campaign will support this project; to help with the costs of ongoing training for these courageous canines and their brave handlers, veterinary treatment and the purchasing of vital equipment.

Meet Ella - our rhino tracker dog!

Hello there! I’m Ella, a Bloodhound Doberman cross with an amazing sense of smell. I’ve been specially selected by the Chipimbere Rhino Foundation to be part of the Wilderness Foundation Africa's Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative where I use my ability to track poachers long after they’ve left the scene.

With the help of the donations made by Medivet’s wonderful clients and colleagues, Medivet are funding the costs of my training, accommodation, and equipment. If it weren’t for these kind and generous donations, I wouldn’t be here to tell you my story.

How I can help

I am a “cold scent” tracker dog, which means I can follow older tracks. There have been instances in the past where rhinos have been poached and left for dead for several hours or half a day before anyone finds them, and the poachers move on to attack another rhino elsewhere. They need dogs like me to track the poacher’s scent to a point where other dogs can intervene and apprehend those poachers.

Not only am I a vital tool during poaching incidents, but my presence in the Eastern Cape means that I am feared by poachers – I’m an extra layer of protection for my rhino friends.

Please continue to share your passion and my story with your friends and family. Together we will reach a long-term solution to the poaching crisis!

Follow my pawsteps #MedivetRhino

Dog Detection and Protection

Dog Detection and Protection services are made up of an elite canine unit in South Africa. We all know dogs have extraordinary abilities and with specialised intensive training, they can become skilled in many different ways. Trained canines are used as security dogs to guard specific areas with their handlers. In particular, they patrol one of South Africa’s most important black rhino breeding populations located within the Eastern Cape.

With rhino poaching increasing by nearly 3,000% since 2007, the need to combat the trade in rhino horn has never been greater. The Wilderness Foundation Africa has reported several arrests, made possible due to these skillful and capable canines.

Dogs like Bud and Seun in the Dog Detection programme specialise in patrolling borders, tracking poachers, and sniffing out firearms and contraband like rhino horn and ivory. They are a remarkable group of dogs whose dedicated handlers share a unique bond with them. Their teamwork is proving to be a very valuable deterrent in the arsenal against poachers as these trained dogs and their handlers boast 90% accuracy in detecting rhino horn in luggage and shipments.

Seun is a Malinois four-year-old cross German Shepherd born in 2011 and Bud is a Setter cross Spaniel, born in 2010. Both dogs were trained for human scent tracking. Seun is able to attack, although we do not use him for this due to the risk this may pose to him in the thicket environment. Our primary objective at all times is to ensure that we have ranger support with the dogs to avoid injuries. 

Sadly, Seun contracted a nasty tick-borne blood parasite called Babesia, which was almost fatal. However, generous donations from our clients, partners and staff helped fund his treatment, which included two blood transfusions. On October 22nd 2015, Seun was deemed well enough to return to work. His handler is extremely proud of him, and wanted to share this photo to the left and this message:

“Seun on his first day back at work and it looks like he never left at all.  Beautiful nose position, focus and discipline.  Needless to say, he found his man.  A huge thanks again to the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative supported by Medivet Saving the Rhino for dragging him back from death’s door”.

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