EC Rhinos now under Ella’s protection

The growing threat of rhino poaching in the Eastern Cape has sparked a remarkable international collaboration which has resulted in the first ‘cold scent’ tracker dog funded for use throughout the Eastern Cape. A dog so unique that her presence and skill set will be feared by poachers and advance rhino protection in the Eastern Cape to new strengths. Her name is Ella.

Ella has been recently deployed and is based on a local game reserve in the Eastern Cape. She has been carefully selected by the Chipembere Rhino Foundation (CRF) to be part of the Forever Wild Rhino Protection initiative. This project represents a partnership between Wilderness Foundation Africa, Medivet Saving the Rhino (UK) and the Chipembere Rhino Foundation, in support of rhino protection. This international collaboration between South Africa and the UK has facilitated the deployment of Ella.  Medivet also provides funds which support other tracker dogs, but shares such sponsorship with other corporate and individual donors.

‘We are excited to introduce Medivet’s first ever fully funded tracker dog, Ella, who will play a key role in our fight to save the rhino. Ella will use her amazing sense of smell to track down poachers and she will be a vital tool during poaching incidents. Thanks to the continued support of our clients and colleagues, we look forward to a future where Ella can help save rhino from poachers’, says John Smithers, Medivet Senior Partner and coordinator of the Medivet Saving the Rhino campaign

Brent Cook, Lynda Leonard (Medivet) and Dr William Fowlds with Ella

Ella is a beautiful Bloodhound Doberman cross with an amazing sense of smell which gives her the ability to track poachers long after they have left the scene, hence being called a ‘cold scent’ tracker dog. She will put an end to the sad scenario in which the poachers’ trail is lost when a slaughtered rhino is only found hours or even days after an attack. Ella is capable of tracking this ‘cold’ scent to the point where other detection dogs can intervene and apprehend the poachers.  This skill set is not only a vital tool in poaching incidents, but her presence provides an extra layer of protection that rhinos need to survive as a species. She is available to support all neighbouring reserves in the province to assist in apprehending poachers.

On the frontline protecting these iconic creatures are brave rangers and K9 units patrolling thousands of kilometres of the Eastern Cape, often with little idea where the ruthless and dangerous poachers and organised crime syndicates plan to hit next. Ella will join this fearless rhino protection force, which includes a number of specially-trained and skilled apprehension dogs deployed by CRF to game reserves across the Eastern Cape. CRF trained K9s in this line of work are making a huge impact in safeguarding Eastern Cape wildlife and has shown to contribute significantly in curbing poaching through early detection and/or apprehension.  This success has ignited international collaborations such as the Wilderness Foundation Africa, Medivet Saving the Rhino (UK) initiative which has been able to provide this vital tool in combating rhino poaching.

“Collaboration between various rhino reserves,  NGO’s and funding partners is what is going to make the difference between life and death for rhino in this province. Ella is a great example of this and her capacity to deploy strategically due to extensive funding support is a huge benefit to our efforts,” says Dr William Fowlds, a renowned wildlife veterinarian and Wilderness Foundation Africa Medivet Project Co-ordinator.

Dr William Fowlds with Ella

“It is our goal to saturate the Eastern Cape with well-trained anti-poaching dogs to protect the rhinos in our province, a precious heritage that belongs to all of our people,” says Brent Cook, Director of CRF. “To accomplish this, we need the help of the community to raise funds to purchase, train and care for additional K9 units, maintain dedicated K9 vehicles and pay salaries for trained K9 handlers. Every effort – even the smallest – from the community counts and makes a difference on the ground.”

Brent Cook with Ella

For more information, please visit the Forever Wild Rhino page

For more information about Medivet Saving the Rhino, please visit

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