An 18 month old White Rhino calf named after a Hollywood star has been saved from a poaching incident by Carmarthenshire-bred and trained anti-poaching dog Dan, bred and trained by non profit organisation Dogs 4 Wildlife in Carmarthenshire.

Dan was deployed to KwaZulu Natal in February this year to work as an anti-poaching dog, finding and locating snares in the fight against rhino poaching, and is already making a difference to anti-poaching efforts.

Hero – Anti-Poaching Dog Dan

Viola, named after Lead Actress Viola Davis, was born during the making of  Oscar nominated ‘The Woman King’ whilst filming on location at in KwaZulu Natal, and thanks to Dan, is now recovering.

Viola the rhino is named after Hollywood Star Viola Davis

The critical rhino poaching incident unfolded late last week at a Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa- highlighting the HUGE importance of the Dogs 4 Wildlife, Cumbria Zoo, Project Rhino and IFPCP Ranger & K9 Unit. The collaborative Ranger & K9 Unit launched last December.

Viola and Mother successfully rescued from a snare

‘Viola’, was caught in a snare with her mother nearby… Viola’s mother also had to be sedated for safety reasons. Thankfully, due to the keen eye of Project Rhino & The IFPCP’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Unit, together with Dan, Viola was spotted in distress, and the plea for help went out. Mother and calf are ok and safe.

The costs involved in removing a snare from a young Rhino are tremendous, and require helicopter and veterinary assistance. In this instance, both mother and calf needed to be darted from the air with multiple ground support to guide and stabilise both animals.


Darren Priddle, Founder and Director of Carmarthenshire based Dogs 4 Wildlife and Extremus Dog Training comments: “The rhino poaching incident really demonstrates why collaboration, partnership, team work and dedication are the cornerstones for effective long term conservation efforts and why our collective Ranger and K9 unit is so important.

“We unite for a common goal, a goal that promotes sustainability and the flourishment of the planets remaining wild places.”


Co-Founder and Director of Dogs 4 Wildlife, Jacqui Law added: “Because of the diligence of our teams on the ground, this incident had a good outcome but this is just one of many  heart breaking incidents of snare poaching that occurs in KwaZulu Natal – many of which do not have a happy outcome.

Snare poaching does not discriminate on what species of animals it wounds or kills. This is a torturous method of catching wildlife for bushmeat.”

Illegal hunting and wildlife trade continues to be a challenge

Illegal hunting of animals is a huge challenge in South Africa’s game Reserves.

KwaZulu Natal holds 25% of the remaining world’s population of both black and white rhino. Combined with the biodiversity of the ecosystems contained within the game reserves, supporting the ongoing conservation and protection of this area’s wildlife is of grave importance.

Last year, a total of 548 rhino were poached in South Africa. At the moment one rhino is killed every 16 hours.

Rhino Poaching

Poaching more than doubled last year in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal, the birthplace of white rhino conservation.
Conservationists say poaching syndicates have turned their attention to parks in KwaZulu-Natal province because rhino numbers in Kruger National Park, the previous epicentre of rhino poaching, have been drastically reduced, and private reserves around Kruger are dehorning their animals.

Unless more is done to tackle the wider issue of the illegal wildlife trade, the future looks bleak for the rhinos of KwaZulu Natal.

Donor James Harwood from Anglesey, North Wales helped to support this operation, to ensure the swift and immediate action to save Viola, and preserve the White Rhino for future generations.

James is visiting South Africa on the Dog’s 4 Wildlife Ultimate Conservation Experience and is now a part of what drives the not for profit every single day to make a change.

With more boots and paws on the ground in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa there will continue to be an increase in snares being found, which is a HUGE positive but Dogs 4 Wildlife and Project Rhino need to be constantly patrolling and of course, further K9 support on the ground is now a matter of urgency.

Dogs 4 Wildlife are currently appealing to get  Nkosi- a young Bavarian Mountain Hound to KwaZulu Natal, to support Dan, spot double the amount of snares found and save double the amount of animals.

Positive outcome – but more work to be done

Junior Blom, K9 Project Manager for Project Rhino said, “We are so pleased that this attempted rhino poaching incident had a positive outcome. Snare poaching and increased incidents in KZN with rhino poaching has been devastating. There have been many more incidents and the death of several rhinos have been completely pointless as we have had rhinos shot that have been dehorned four months previously.

“The added increase in rangers as part of our Ranger & K9 Unit means there have been an increase in snares being found which is really positive and once we have huge plans to have zero incidents of snares being laid.”

Anti-poaching dogs contribute to reducing incidents of poaching by as much as 75%, so the dogs deployed to KwaZulu Natal will have a  huge part to play in the conservation of rhino.

To help and donate to Dogs 4 Wildlife please visit the Dogs 4 Wildlife website


About Dogs 4 Wildlife

Non-Profit Organisation Dogs 4 Wildlife aims to provide both quality, highly trained dogs and specialised ranger training for the development of anti-poaching canine units, to protect endangered wildlife. Helping to inspire and motivate the next generation of wildlife protectors, through effective and determined education.

 Deploying anti-poaching dogs  and K9 units is a crucial part of conservation efforts in Africa

With a long term committed view to assisting in the protection and continuation of endangered species, Dogs 4 Wildlife are a highly experienced team of knowledgeable, dedicated animal lovers with a commitment to wildlife conservation. With 12 operational dogs across 4 Southern African countries, The Dogs 4 Wildlife K9’s help achieve up to a 75% reduction in poaching numbers

Dogs 4 Wildlife promote, for the benefit of the public and our future generations, the conservation and protection of endangered species and the protection against wildlife crime through:

  • Training and establishing skilled, reliable, and highly effective, anti-poaching canine units.
  • Advancing the training and equipment of Anti-Poaching rangers.
  • Community empowerment projects, to advance the awareness and education of endangered species for the continued protection of biodiversity.
  • Providing educational platforms in both the UK and Africa to raise awareness for the plight of wildlife and inspire the next generation of wildlife protectors.