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Lewa News

November 20, 2003 Sara Spendrup

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy could not operate successfully without a huge back-up support of planes, machinery, radios, mechanics and dogs. As well as the two-seater Super Cub, used for surveillance and security, there is one more fixed-wing aircraft, and a host of trucks. Plus, of course, a yard full of maintenance and repair workshops which are constantly busy countering the ravages of hard terrain and constant use. The maintenance of fencing posts and electrical fences is ongoing.

Tracker dogs In March 1998, the British army donated two trained tracker dogs to LWC which, working a long side a well trained tracker team, act as a strong deterrent to potential poachers. Bonnie, a German shepherd and Murphy, a yellow Labrador had previously seen operational service in Northern Ireland and adapted quickly to the very different climate and working conditions of northern Kenya.

It took a little longer for their new handlers to adjust to the concept that the dog’s nose could be better than a human’s vision but once they had gained confidence, training advanced. Within months the dogs proved to be worth their weight in rhino horn as their noses led to the arrest and conviction of several poachers. They have since then received huge recognition from the Government and local police.

Bonnie later retired and is now looking after the two orphaned cheetah cubs on Lewa, and she is doing a splendid job.

Murphy also retired and he is now living on a farm nearby, enjoying his retirement.

At the moment we have two tracker dogs here on Lewa; Sam, a huge black Labrador and Punch, a cross-breed. Both are doing well and when they are not out in the field working they are on a serious training programme to keep them fit.