Big Life Foundation
Facebook icon twitter square red 64x Instagram Vimeo  DONATE

141017 1 1 Big Life Tanzania Tracker Dogs Lead to Arrest of Latest Elephant Killers

Three days ago, just after nightfall, the crack of gunfire echoed across the plains.  Somewhere, another massive bull elephant died for its tusks. 

Rangers stationed at the nearby Manyara Ranch, a community-based conservancy managed by the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), received a call from community informants. Within a half hour, rangers had arrived at the base of the mountains and had no choice but to pursue the case on foot.

Soon thereafter, rangers from Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Wildlife Division’s anti-poaching unit (KDU) joined the operation. But in the dark of night, they could find little among the forested hills. 

By 5:00am, the pursuit resumed and ran into a bit of luck. The community informants directed the team to the spot where they had encountered a dead elephant that morning. Due to the rapid reaction of the Manyara Ranch team the previous night, the poachers hadn’t even have time to remove the tusks.

The elephant, a well-known, long time resident in Tarangire National Park and its surroundings, met his end via a single bullet fired by a seemingly veteran poacher. The elephant was nearly 50 years of age. His tusks, the sole reason for his murder, were significant : about 1.7 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) long and weighed an estimated 60 kilos (132 pounds). 

For other anti-poaching operations, that might have been the end of the story. Criminals escaped. Scene investigated. Report written and filed away. But that’s not how it went down this time.

The Big Life Foundation Tracker Dog Unit, a special team of canines and their handlers headquartered in Manyara Ranch and also in West Kilimanjaro were called in.

Enter Rocky and his new sidekick, Rosdas. It didn’t take long before the German shepherd mixed breeds picked up the human scents from footprints near the elephant’s carcass. It seemed multiple people had been there the previous night before the rangers had given chase. A new kind of hunt had begun.

For the rest of the day, the dogs followed the scent trail through the foothills and scrublands. First Rocky took the lead but eventually tired after the relentless pursuit wore on for more than five hours. His backup came to the rescue.

This had been the first time Rosdas had joined a Big Life Tracker Dog operation, and right from the outset, his months of training bore fruit.

The scent led him to the main highway heading to a town and directly to the home of a local resident. The man admitted that two men had come in the middle of the night requesting their cell phones to be charged. 

It was this information then led to the capture of the two suspects.
(At this time, additional information cannot be released, as it could jeopardize the ongoing investigation.)

Already, though, the operation has shown how a number of committed groups, TANAPA, KDU, NGOs, and communities, can work together and combine their expertise and manpower to produce results.

Let us just hope that hard evidence will be uncovered this time and poachers will be charged and convicted. 

Big Life’s tracker dog unit in Tanzania thus continues to be an incredibly effective anti-poaching force, one of the single best uses of donor money. Not just because they are so good at tracking down the poachers, but also as a deterrent - because poachers in the region know that these dogs have that ability to track them down many miles away. It just becomes too risky for many to attempt to kill. 

The dogs and their handlers are now being requested and deployed in the Serengeti, Tarangire and Manyara National Parks as well as the West Kilimanjaro original headquarters.

Please donate at

to help continue the funding of Big Life’s tracker dogs.

Honeyguide Foundation manages AWF’s Manyara Ranch ranger team and the Big Life Foundation Tracker Dog Unit.

Share This
80% to 100% of Proceeds go to Big Life
160213 1 1 Ranger of the Month January 2016
February 13, 2016


It’s hard to think straight when you’ve got a lion on your roof, but a warrior’s spear had already glanced off the car and Seiko had to act fast. He put his foot down and the little Suzuki 4x4 went crashing through the… Read More
150519 1 1 Ranger of the Month April 2015 Moloimet Legos
May 19, 2015


It was early morning. The young men moved swiftly through the bush. The tracks were fresh and the warriors moved fast, excitement building as they anticipated the combat ahead. By mid afternoon, the warriors found their… Read More
141206 1 1 Ranger of the Month November 2014 Senior Sergeant Lekina Olempumpu
December 06, 2014


Anti-poaching rangers are strong, courageous individuals. They spend whole days patrolling the bush, tracking poachers, and keeping the peace between wildlife and humans. It takes an even stronger character to lead… Read More
141002 1 1 Ranger of the Month August Dickson Ntawuasa
October 02, 2014


A rhino named Dickson, who would have thought? Certainly not the man himself when he stepped in his new position as a ranger 22 years ago.There were only ten rangers back then, a motley crew starting off in a role never… Read More