Meet Arrow and his handler, Henry Holtshyzen. Arrow is specially trained to skydive into wildlife preserves in Africa as part of an unusual effort to combat poaching.
Several countries are now using skydiving dogs to pursue poachers who have been decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other species.
The skydiving dogs wear masks and goggles to protect them during their jumps.
Arrow takes flight
Arrow seems unperturbed, even as they jump out of a helicopter, falling more than 6,000 feet to Earth.
The landing zone is in the middle of the poaching wars.
“Getting the dog to the front lines as fast as possible is always a challenge and parachuting ... is one of the ways of getting dog boots on the ground where they are needed,” Holtshyzen says.
Ready for the hunt
These elite dogs are trained to immediately sniff out the poacher, rushing to attack and pinning the poacher to the ground until more help arrives.
Nearly 100 of these skydiving dogs have been placed in game reserves across Africa. In one region, they caught more than 100 poachers in 18 months.
On the run
Arrow bolts after a “poacher” in a training exercise.
The dogs are up against up against highly-trained, heavily-armed poachers who run a multimillion-dollar industry trading in elephant and rhino horn. In the past seven years, a third of Africa’s elephants have been wiped out.
Bite more powerful than bark
This may be a training exercise, but the dog’s bites are real. Special bite-proof suits are needed for protection.
Dropping into action
Dogs are also trained to rappel from helicopters.
“That is the most effective tool against poaching ever used and it’s low technology, it’s low cost compared to other technologies. And it works,” Holtshyzen says.