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Ella's Pawsteps: Part 1

Since Ella’s recent deployment she has been adapting well to her tracking role in the Eastern Cape with handler Eric, and the bond between the two of them is continuing to grow.

Ella was specifically selected as a good candidate for anti-poaching from a young age by Aidon Lipptreu at Sardinia Bay Canine Academy. Being part bloodhound, she showed a great natural talent for finding and following scents which, combined with her good nature and love of toys (only if they squeak of course) made her the ideal dog to train.

Before Ella was chosen to join the team she underwent extensive training by Aidon as a cold scent tracking dog. This taught Ella to pick up on scents often days old, so she is able to lead the attack dogs to the poachers. Once Ella was ready, the next challenge was to match her to the perfect handler.

Eric began his career as an anti-poaching field ranger before applying to be Ella’s dog handler. His love of dogs, previous experience handling working dogs, strong work ethic and knowledge of the local area, made him the strongest candidate to be appointed to her.

Eric and Ella then underwent a further four-week training course, this time together as one team to test their compatibility and cement the bond between them. 

Eric said “I knew from then that I wanted to work with Ella, she’s such a focused and dedicated dog but had also become very affectionate towards me. She’s a pleasure to work with. I feel very proud that we have been selected to be a part of this project.”


This project represents a partnership between Wilderness Foundation Africa, Medivet Saving the Rhino and the Chipembere Rhino Foundation, in support of rhino protection as part of the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative.

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