Law enforcers fighting poaching along the Overberg coast say they have been left stranded after the only trained abalone sniffer dog in the area was retired.
Their problems started last year when the Overberg K9 Unit’s only Protected Species sniffer dog, Tex, retired due to old age.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel André Traut says while a replacement hasn’t been found for Tex yet, anti-poaching operations aren’t affected by this.
“The placement process for a marine detection sniffer dog at the Overberg K9 unit is yet to be finalised,” he states.
“Policing of the Overberg area is by no means compromised by the situation and operations to address poaching are conducted on a frequent basis.”
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Head of Compliance, Nkosinathi Dana, agrees with Traut.
“The sniffer dog is but one of the tools we use in our operations. We have other specialised equipment to address poaching,” he explains.
But law enforcement officials working in the Overberg say the top dogs from DAFF and SAPS doesn’t realise the big difference a sniffer dog makes in their daily policing.
This year alone, the Daily Voice reported on several busts in the Overberg, amounting to nearly R22 million of poached perly.
One official says having a sniffer dog saves a lot of time and effort.
“For instance, when you get info that the perly is hidden under a load of wood you have to unload all the wood, and then you get nothing, whereas the dog would have been able to tell immediately if perly was on board or not.
“The time spent doing this could have been spent elsewhere,” the cop explains.
According to Traut, the Cape Town K9 Unit is called in to assist with operations in the Overberg.
But the official says: “The problem is that those guys mostly work with the Hawks and DAFF’s Special Investigations Unit and aren’t always available.
“Ons sukkel rêrig sonder die hond,” adds the official.