Our dog unit was born in 2006 when two bloodhounds were donated to us by Tusk Trust. They have since become a key part of the Mbirikani Community Game Scouts program and added greatly to the program’s success. For more information on the MCGS please have a look at the MCGS’s introductory blog. The Bloodhounds quickly proved what a fantastic conservation tool they are and continue to do so again and again.
Bloodhounds track by following a the trail of scent which is given off as the skin cells we constantly shed decompose. Each person’s scent is different and the dogs rely on this and the strength of the scent to identify the route taken. The ease of this varies with climate, most notably moisture. Our dogs track in the most arid of terrains of any Kenyan unit and this makes their noses ever the more sensitive.
Bloodhounds were historically bred in France where they were used for tracking game across vast areas of land as part of a hunt. As time moved on and parcels of land became smaller and smaller they were moved on to tracking poachers. Recently they were brought to the African Continent where they proved their worth by tracking over large distances. In comparisons to solely human teams they are almost incomparable. They can cover an area of ground that would take a human team a several hours in a fraction of the time and can even track over open ground where there are little or no visible signs. This has made them a fantastic anti-poaching tool as well as acting as a great deterrent once the community is aware of their presence.
Our dog unit, Delta Mobile, is one of only a handful in Kenya. The team travels far and wide to help out in a variety of situations. Though their primary goal is to combat Rhino poaching, recent operations have involved tracking game-meat poachers, livestock and property thieves and even children lost in the bush. The unit is made up of three handlers, two highly skilled Bloodhounds and one companion dog. Delta Mobile is always on standby and is called to the scene to combat any issues where tracking is required. They can operate at such speeds that they often catch up with fleeing poachers!
Below is an introduction to the members of Delta Mobile:
Bosco is a first generation Kenyan Bloodhound bred on Ol Jogi Ranch in Laikipia. He was donated to MPT in 2006 alongside his sister, Judy. They were both trained in part in Laikipia and in part by Patrick Stanton at the Ride Kenya stables. Bosco is now three and a half years old and trains 6 days a week. Bosco is an extremely successful tracker, following trails as much as 24 hours old. We are very proud of him as he currently operates above a 95% success rate. He has a great character and lives to sniff!
Drastic is a slightly older Bloodhound Foxhound cross. He was recently donated to us by Fieldready Bloodhounds in the UK. We are all very happy to have him here and he is really settling into his new surrounds well. He is currently under a strict training routine getting him ready to work alongside his new friend Bosco.
Maureen is what we call here a “shenzi” or what you may call a mutt! She was a street dog in Nairobi and was rescued by the KSPCA, where we found her. She was brought in as a companion for Bosco when his sister, Judy, died of Trypps in April. She is a very excitable young dog and is really happy with her new life. Probably because we learned that for the first month she was being fed the same sized portions as Bosco, despite being a quarter of the weight!
The bloodhounds would be unable to function without support from their handlers, to whom a great deal of credit goes. A tracker dog relies heavily on a handler who understands the dynamics of not just scent, but tracking too. This is essential in guiding and controlling the dog whilst they operate at high speeds through thick bush. Three of our Community Game Scouts have been specially trained as handlers. They are Mutinda, Marsaria and Kilitia. Marsaria and Kilitia are both local Maasai warriors from the Mbirikani Group Ranch, where as Mutinda is an ex-Wakamba poacher who was arrested by our MCGS in 2002. After proving that he had changed his ways Mutinda joined the MCGS where his knowledge and experience prove invaluable to Delta Mobile and the MCGS.
If you are lucky enough to come visit us, the team will gladly take you out for training and you can see if you can outwit them. But for now stay posted for more news from Delta Mobile!
We would also like to take this chance to thank Pirjo I for a very much appreciated donation. Asante sana!
The MPT Team