It's just a dog, but it touches hearts

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by NamStay, Nov 14, 2017.

  1. NamStay

    NamStay AH Enthusiast

    Dec 18, 2015
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    I FELL in love with a dog called Azzarro – a brown shepherd that helps the anti-poaching unit to fight poachers.

    I met Azzarro last week during a visit to the Etosha National Park for the inauguration of the anti-poaching unit patrol station.

    Azzarro was there when we arrived, and my first reaction was that it would bite me.

    Instead, Azzarro turned out to be very friendly, greeting each one of us in its silent way.

    It also turned out to be heartbreakingly vulnerable, especially when Azzarro's handler, Bernt Brell (52), called out its name.

    Then, Azzarro would cower down in obedience. That stole my heart.

    Speaking on behalf of the dog, Brell said the name means a person who made battle axes in Italian.

    Brell, who has been working with Azzarro this year, said the dog would turn four in February next year. It is trained to protect wildlife against poachers, and was selected for its outstanding tracking and protection drive.

    It is also tasked to track down poachers in different environments and circumstances during the day or night.

    Besides the tracking for human scent, Azzarro is also trained to detect snares and firearms.

    In the case of a threatening situation, Brell said, Azzarro attacks and protects his handlers.

    Azzarro is also more resistant to common dog diseases, and adapts to climates easily.

    Just like any one of us, Azzarro becomes visibly upset when it performs a task successfully and Brell ignores that.

    Brell said Azzarro enjoys getting a black rubber ball as a reward whenever it performs a task successfully.

    The environment ministry's public relations officer, Romeo Muyunda, said Azzarro is the first and only dog in the unit, although there are plans to get more.

    Muyunda could not be drawn into giving details about Azzarro's impact on anti-poaching.

    He just said the anti-poaching unit have reduced poaching activities.

    The anti-poaching unit has 495 staff members, who have reduced poaching cases down to 27 this year.

    Still, Muyunda could not say whether this reduction was because of Azzarro's presence.

    Africa Geographic says the Kruger National Park in South Africa now has over 50 dogs working as part of anti-poaching units.

    The first dog introduced to that park in December 2010 was named Ngwenya.

    At the time, some wildlife activists said the use of dogs for anti-poaching would not work.

    Ngwenya, however, changed people's minds after everyone began to see the impact which the dog had.

    It is not only me who fell in love with Azzarro, but Brell too.

    “I grew up with dogs, and before Azzarro, I had one which helped in tracking rhinos as well,” Brell, who spent much of his time on a farm between Karibib and Okahandja, said.

    “I spent a lot of time on my grandparents' farm,” he explained. “ I think that's when I fell in love with nature, animals and especially dogs.”

    Although Brell has been married for 20 years, he said he loves the bush.

    “My daughter was born in the forest. We named her Inka after a rhino which had the same name,” he said.

    Inka, the daughter, is now 17, and sadly for Brell, he sees very little of her and her mother.

    Both mother and daughter are at Walvis Bay.

    “I think I have only seen her and my wife twice this year,” he recalled.

    Brell said Inka, the rhino, was adopted by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, based in the Kunene region.

    The foundation is a wildlife conservation charity which funds critical projects in Africa and Asia.

    According to Brell, Inka, the rhino, has given birth three times so far.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2017

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