paramount-groupImage: Paramount Group

Canine units in South Africa are being trained to rappel out of helicopters and parachute from airplanes. We couldn’t make this stuff up.

These units are part of an elite anti-poaching team fighting against wildlife trafficking in Kruger National Park. By accessing areas by plane or helicopter, teams can rapidly reach remote spots where poachers are hiding.

The dogs are strapped to their handlers chests for skydiving, and put into specially designed harnesses to rappel out of helicopters.

10434173_331195660386690_2675397500776732635_nImage: Monitor en Spektrum/FB

The goal is to eventually train upwards of 400 German shepherds and Belgian malinois to track down poachers in extremely secluded areas.

The dogs and their handlers spend 3 months training at Paramount Group’s Anti-Poaching and Canine Training Academy. Teams are taught how to hide in the bush, as well as best methods for spending several days trekking on foot carrying their own food and supplies. They learn to depend on one another and even share a sleeping bag at night.

These unique and incredible dogs are able to track snares and firearms in thick undergrowth, identify bush meat, and work at night when the poachers are unable to track.

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South Africa’s wildlife populations are being rapidly decimated by poachers who sell elephant tusks and rhino horn (among other things) to fuel the Asian black market.

Bloomberg Markets writes, “Rhino horn demand has climbed in Asian nations, including China and Vietnam, because of a belief that they can cure diseases such as cancer and even ease a hangover. The price of the horns is as much as $95,000 per kilogram in Asia, more valuable than gold.”

So far, the program has been wildly successful: One dog named “Killer” caught 115 groups of poachers over the course of only 18 months.

We can’t wait to see what else they can accomplish.