SA’s Biggest Hero Isn’t Human

South Africa's biggest hero is a dog

Well, let’s be specific about this.  South Africa has a great many heroes that need recognition.  Can anyone really compete with the people who brought our country out of its discriminatory past?  It’s certainly difficult.  But, as things stand, one of the nation’s greatest plights is rhino poaching, and the hero leading the charge against poachers just so happens to be a dog.

K9 Killer is his name, and he was recently honoured by actor Ricky Gervais as one of South Africa’s biggest heroes.  An animal rights activist himself, Gervais presented K9 Killer with a gold medal from the UK’s PSDA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) in honour of his service to the cause.  In the last 4 years, K9 Killer has assisted in the capture of more than 115 poachers in the Kruger National Park.  He is no doubt responsible for saving the lives of a far higher number of rhinos.

‘Killer’ is a six-year-old Belgian Malinois.  The breed is apparently excellent for tracking human scents.  In fact, a Belgian Malinois was used to help find Osama bin Laden in the 2011 hunt.  This one was named Cairo.  Film fans might recognise the breed from the recent film, Max, which portrayed the story of a dog deployed in the Afghanistan war.

But, while this might add to his name in making Killer sound more than a little frightening, he is not quite the bloodthirsty attack dog that some might think he is.  His handler, Amos Mzimba, says that, while K9 Killer can give a nasty bite, he is quite a placid dog.  While he sounds terribly vicious, he’s not used for attacking poachers.  Instead his keen tracking ability is used to find these illegal hunters, which the specialised team backing him up then apprehends.

How Killer Hunts Poachers

With the Kruger National Park covering such a vast area, it is very difficult to find poachers.  Operating stealthily, poachers often use the expanse of the reserve to remain undetected while they kill rhinos for their horns.  Knowing this, K9 Killer and his team don’t try to cover the whole reserve on foot.  Instead, they use a helicopter to fly to areas where they know a great deal of poaching goes on.  From there, Killer leads the way, latching onto the poachers’ scent and leading the team to them.

This is strategy that clearly works, given the amount of poachers brought down thanks to Killer.  But, will his medal now mean that he will sit back and rest on his laurels?  It’s not likely.  With K9 Killer’s team absolutely committed to keeping the rhino from extinction, one can expect that Killer himself won’t stop until Africa is rid of poachers forever.


Image credit: