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Behind the scenes on Making CONTACT – a K9 Conservation Story

Behind the scenes on Making CONTACT – a K9 Conservation Story

In July this year, Making CONTACT – a five-part mini- documentary series celebrating and profiling anti-poaching K9 units in South Africa’s nature reserves – was launched across the country.

The Love Africa team spent a large portion of last year filming and producing this series with Hill’s Pet Nutrition and our conservation partners. 

Filmed in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Kruger National Park and Cape Point, the series tells the personal stories of five dogs and their handlers, highlighting the companionship, perseverance and connection between them and the important link with our natural environment. 

Making CONTACT also raises awareness of the key organisations, protected areas and individuals on the ground that are all working together to protect our natural heritage. Fuelled by passion and the drive for sustainability, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has been supporting the K9 anti-poaching units with food, equipment and health care since 2012. 

Behind the scenes
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“We have had an overwhelmingly positive response to this mini-documentary. We spent many months putting this together; have had the privilege of filming in some of South Africa’s most beautiful wilderness areas, and importantly, met with and  listened to the inspiring stories of wildlife rangers fighting to protect our wild spaces and natural heritage, every day. Thank you to those who have watched, shared and sent us your kind words of support. We hope this series creates the impact that is deserved for these individuals and organisations.” Nicola Gerrard, Producer and Managing Director, Love Africa Marketing. 

A special thank you to the passionate Hill’s Pet Nutrition team for choosing us to tell this story, and for supporting the K9 units protecting our reserves.. Brigid, Desre, Guy, Dianne and the rest of your team – thank you!

To our talented and passionate crew and advisors on this project – thank you for your dedication to this series and campaign. 

“The fight to protect our natural world is constant, but when you spend a few weeks behind the scenes engaging with the individuals, whether it is the Rangers, the K9s, the support teams or the passionate volunteers. You get a sense of purpose, a purpose to fight, a purpose to show the world that the small things really do matter. I hope our story shows the world what Heroes these women, men and K9s are. I believe we have some of the most incredible wildlife walking the most beautiful landscapes in the world, it really is worth fighting for.”  – Sven Musica, Film Maker – Love Africa Marketing

WATCH the full episodes here: https://www.hillstransforminglives.co.za/…/full-episodes

Casey Pratt | Love Africa Marketing

Making CONTACT – Episode 1: GHOST TRAIL

Amongst the brutal reality of conservation, caring companions are formed.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park is home to the largest population of rhino outside of the Kruger National Park and is managed by the Provincial Conservation Authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

The Hluhluwe iMfolozi K9 Unit was revamped in 2020, and at present they have two handlers and two Doberman/Bloodhounds breeds called Ghost and Gecko, who are classified as cold scent dogs with the ability to follow scents that are up to eight hours old. 

“The K9 unit has an incredible success rate and the deterrent factor of having such a unit on site can never be underestimated,” says Dennis Kelly, Makhamisa Section Ranger, Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

WATCH – Episode 1: https://youtu.be/Rzv1i4_vdoo

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Making CONTACT – Episode 2 of 5: LIFE LINE

Anti-poaching K9 teams risk their lives on a daily basis. The dog’s heightened senses and body language become invaluable to the handler. The risks are real and the outcome is unpredictable.

“95% of our poaching arrests are made with the help of tracker dogs,” Johan de Beer, K9 Manager, Kruger National Park of South African National Parks.

WATCH Episode 2; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FZd1ObLcdI…

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Making CONTACT – Episode 3 of 5: TOGETHER UNITED. 

The fight against poaching cannot be tackled individually. In order to achieve success, anti-poaching units need the help of the team. “The K9 anti-poaching unit is considered a game changer for South African National Parks,” Johan de Beer, K9 Manager, Kruger National Park of South African National Parks

Since its inception in 2012, the unit in the Kruger National Park has grown from three to 46 dogs. Following great success, the project was extended to other national parks with a total of 60 dogs now working around the country. 

WATCH Episode 3; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFLsjUyOuRk

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Making CONTACT – Episode 4 of 5: S.E.A.M. TEAM

‘An ongoing silent war within our tranquil oceans is taking place daily. As humans we tend to create a commodity out of our national heritage.’

This shoot was completely different to our other locations – the marine element not only gave us contrasting and breath-taking colours and vegetation, but also gave us insight into a totally different conservation challenge within our oceans. We spent time on the water with a passionate team making significant impact – please watch the series and help keep these paws and boots on the ground. 

WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-qBknWex0w&t=37s

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Making CONTACT – Episode 5 of 5: DISCONNECT. RECONNECT.

‘To connect with our natural environment is to learn from it, to respect it and to love it.’

This is the final episode – and has one of the most important messages for the series and for us all. Making CONTACT as the name for the campaign included the theme of ‘contact’ or connection with nature – which many of us have lost. We need to get it back. 

WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxPDnYXZd2Q…

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Images for each episode: Casey Pratt  – Love Africa Marketing