In the past four years, the acute tracking skills of five-year-old K9 Killer, a Belgian malinois, have led to the arrests of 115 poachers; making him the most successful dog working with Kruger National Park’s Special Operations Team.
Because he has risked his life to save the African rhinos from extinction he has been awarded the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Gold Medal – recognised worldwide as the animals’ George Cross.
Comedian and animal welfare advocate Ricky Gervais formally presented K9 Killer’s award, on behalf of PDSA.
He said, “Killer does fantastic work in the Kruger National Park. He helped capture dozens of poachers in the last year alone, thanks to his amazing courage and dedication. He’s making a huge contribution to rhino protection in South Africa.”
Alongside handler Amos Mzimba, Killer is flown in by helicopter to track and apprehend armed poachers when they are sighted, or a dead rhino is discovered.
Mzimba, said, “It is an honour to have Killer by my side. Thanks to him, we are arresting more poachers, but there is a lot more to be done if we are to save the rhino from extinction.”
With the number of rhino killings increasing from 448 in 2011 to 1215 in 2014, Killer is an integral part of the fight against poaching.