Ella is a beautiful Bloodhound Doberman cross with an amazing sense of smell. She was introduced as a new member to Wilderness Foundation Africa’s Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative, being the only such rhino tracker dog in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
This particular breed of dog has been selected as they are especially suited to ‘cold scent tracking. Whilst other dogs are often trained as track and attack dogs, who can only follow scents which are fresh and up to 2-4 hours old, Ella is able to track scents that are significantly older due to her superior sense of smell and work drive.
Unfortunately, in many situations reserves are alerted to the security breach or threat many hours or days after the event. In these cases a cold scent dog, like Ella, would be able to help track the whereabouts of suspects where track and attack dogs cannot.
Medivet, through their Medivet Rhino campaign, is a proud supporter of the Ella project. It has been an incredible journey working in partnership with Medivet, the Chipembere Rhino Foundation and Ella and we would like to share some of Ella’s journey with you.
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.
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.”
Ella’s Pawsteps Part 2:
Alongside Ella’s normal daily routine, she also has to encounter some weird and wonderful things so that she is prepared for anything...
“The work we do is tough and I ask a lot of Ella. We regularly do long treks and often over difficult terrain in harsh conditions so it is vital she remains in perfect health to be able to cope with the task at hand.
Spending so much time with Ella, I trust that she would let me know if she wasn’t feeling quite herself.”
Ella’s Pawsteps Part 3:
Ella is continuously undergoing on the job practical training to improve her skills and allow her to work to her full potential.
As an anti-poaching unit dog, Ella is expected to work in close contact with all wild animals, not just rhinos; and has recently spent time meeting many species great and small.
During a rhino management procedure to replace a telemetry tracking collar, Ella had her first encounter with a tranquilized rhino; these experiences will enable her to be comfortable working in close proximity to these magnificent animals. Ella was initially cautious about getting too close, but with Eric’s reassurance, she soon became more confident and relaxed with the situation.
Click on the link to watch Ella's First Rhino Encounter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WO7cZh1MVM
Ella’s Pawsteps Part 4:
Ella recently had her first flight in a helicopter and, although the noisy blades were a little daunting to approach, she soon settled down and enjoyed the ride with Eric by her side! As this is a key mode of transport for Ella, she will be doing more helicopter training so she becomes fully comfortable travelling by air.
Click on the link to watch Ella's First Helicopter Experience https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBfis883NYY
Ella’s Pawsteps Part 5:
All too early into Ella’s deployment, she was called to her first rhino poaching incident with Eric.
Ella’s Pawsteps Part 6:
Ella’s work regularly brings new challenges and this week was no different. Whilst on patrol Ella came across an unexpected visitor in the form of a puff adder, an extremely cytotoxic snake with one bite often proving fatal to our canine companions.
Visit https://www.medivet.co.uk/news-info-advice/medivet-rhino/ to read more about Ella’s Pawsteps.