Dogs have always been man’s best friend, but Diego the anti-poaching dog is also a big help to endangered rhinos.
The Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya provides a sanctuary for endangered white rhinos, including the last living male northern white rhino.
To protect these threatened animals, rangers rely on Diego, a highly-trained dog whose naturally-honed senses of smell and hearing help him detect and ward off poachers seeking to kill rhinos.
This video from National Geographic and Fauna & Flora International recreates how Diego’s training prepares him to help rangers apprehend poaching criminals. Upon being alerted to a kill site by a gunshot, Diego and his handlers congregate on the area and see a suspected poacher fleeing the scene.
At command, Diego is unleashed and pursues the poacher, tirelessly scaling steep cliffs, leaping fallen trees, and fording rivers. Clocking in at speeds up to 40 mph, he soon catches up to his quarry and clamps down on his arm, allowing rangers to close in and arrest the man.
Diego’s tough training, along with the hard work of his human companions, seems to be paying off. Ol Pejeta Conservancy says it has not lost a single rhino in a year. Conservationists, taking notice, are working to put more dogs like Diego into action at other wildlife reserves.
No dogs have been lost in anti-poaching work to date, although the job remains very dangerous for human rangers. In mid-2014, 56 rangers were reported killed in the previous year. But with hard-working and attentive dogs like Diego by their side, rangers are given one more weapon to make themselves and the animals they protect a little bit safer.