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Meet Jackson - the dog being trained in Suffolk for a globally important cause

PUBLISHED: 19:00 05 November 2020 | UPDATED: 12:05 06 November 2020

Jackson is being trained to fight the frontline against poaching in Kenya  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jackson is being trained to fight the frontline against poaching in Kenya Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

He may look like he’s having fun, but this four-legged enforcer is busy training for a serious mission.

Darren Debenham and Daryll Pleasants with Jackson  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDarren Debenham and Daryll Pleasants with Jackson Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jackson, the Belgian Malinois, is currently undergoing rigorous preparation to help fight on the front-line against poaching in Africa.

Darren Debenham training Jackson at the centre near Claydon  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDarren Debenham training Jackson at the centre near Claydon Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The 18-month-old shepherd dog is being trained at Guardians K9 Training Centre, near Claydon, to guard critically endangered rhinos in Kenya.

Darren Debenham and Jackson  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDarren Debenham and Jackson Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The professional training centre specialises in training dogs for operations around the world, including search and rescue missions, law enforcement and general protection duties.

Darren Debenham training Jackson  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDarren Debenham training Jackson Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Helping Jackson with his training are Guardians K9 boss, Darren Debenham, and Daryll Pleasants, founder of Animals Saving Animals (ASA), which trains and deploys highly specialised dogs to anti-poaching units.

Belgian Malinois, Jackson  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBelgian Malinois, Jackson Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Once fully trained, Jackson will join the anti-poaching unit at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in Kenya – home to the world’s last two remaining northern white rhinos, as well as the critically endangered black rhinoceros.

A northern white rhino in Africa  Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTOA northern white rhino in Africa Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

His coaching comes following the recent passing of Diego – also trained by ASA in Kenya to be the conservancy’s faithful triple-role anti-poaching dog from 2013.

Daryll Pleasants, founder of Animals Saving Animals, with a rhino in Kenya  Picture: ANIMALS SAVING ANIMALSDaryll Pleasants, founder of Animals Saving Animals, with a rhino in Kenya Picture: ANIMALS SAVING ANIMALS

In the early stages of development, training will focus on obedience, environment and agility. If all goes according to plan, Jackson will be deployed in February 2021.

Jackson's late predecessor, Diego, training in Kenya  Picture: ANIMALS SAVING ANIMALSJackson's late predecessor, Diego, training in Kenya Picture: ANIMALS SAVING ANIMALS

Mr Pleasants said Jackson would be uniquely skilled to deter and track poachers – particularly at night – but also required the right temperament for a variety of other important jobs like locating lost tourists.

Mr Debenham added: “He’ll have to be suitable for all roles; to be able to meet tourists, say hello and be in their photos.

“We’ve got everything we need here to build his confidence – but we’ll be going to all kinds of different locations to continue his training.”

Mr Pleasants said that would include boat training, helicopter training, airport training and rappelling.

He said the reason for the partnership between Guardians K9 and ASA was to raise the bar for dog professional training.


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