The world’s first skydiving anti-poaching dog has made it into the Guinness World Records and made history.
Arrow, a German Shepherd, specially trained to combat Africa’s poaching crisis, has earned his title after much preparation and hard work.
He made his maiden jump at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria with handler Henry Holsthyzen of Paramount Group’s Anti-Poaching and K9 Academy based in Rustenburg in the North West.
Arrow was selected as a puppy for his temperament and trained to descend from a helicopter by rope, strapped to Holsthyzen, and finally, to skydive.
Arrow is one of nearly 200 other specially bred and trained K9s at the Anti-Poaching and Canine Training Academy run by Paramount Group, the African-based defence and aerospace company that manufactures aircraft, armoured vehicles, naval vessels and unmanned aerial vehicles for governments around the world.
His entry into the Guinness World Records comes after much preparation. His skydiving expertise hinges on his close relationship with his handler. Since Arrow was a puppy, he and Holsthyzen have eaten, slept and worked together to develop the inseparable bond needed to carry out high-pressure anti-poaching tasks together.
“With my knowledge of Arrow, knowing him and his personality, it gave me a very good idea of what to expect and he acted accordingly. He’s a natural-born skydiver and an adrenaline junkie. I was more scared than he was!” said Holsthyzen.
“I’m willing to go into battle with him because I trust him. Trust forms the basis of our relationship and that enables the handler and the K9 relationship to excel,” Holsthyzen added.
The academy is the culmination of six years of active involvement by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation and Paramount Group in anti-poaching initiatives, and is one of the largest of its kind in Africa.
“In some cases we have to insert the canine into a difficult situation with the poachers or a challenging environment, such as a forest or mountainous regions.
“The parachute helps engage them quietly,” Eric Ichikowitz, director of the Ichikowitz Family Foundation said.