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O.R. Tambo International Airport introduces new breed to its Bird Strike Avoidance Programme
Wednesday, August 01, 2012 | 00:00

In an initiative that has never been done at any other airport in the world before, Africa’s hub airport, O.R. Tambo International, has successfully introduced and implemented a new breed of dog to its Bird Strike Avoidance Programme.

Border Collies have been used at O.R. Tambo International Airport for the past 10 years but now for the first time ever, ACSA has successfully implemented the use of a Springer Spaniel as part of its bird scaring approach and it has already proved most effective. 

After intensive training ‘Chase’ started working at the airport at the beginning of this year and a second Springer Spaniel, Griffon, is currently in training and will join the team in 2013. It is expected that the Springer Spaniels will add value to the effective wildlife management strategy, which has assisted in preventing collisions between aircrafts and birds.

Our Wildlife and Fire & Rescue officers have been hard at work getting Chase to work well with our Border Collies, Tina and Scot. The initial training with Chase was done on a farm in a secure environment with a highly qualified trainer and his new handler before he started at the airport at the age of 15 months.

So why the change from one breed to another?


Both Border Collies and Springer Spaniels add value to the Bird Scaring Programme. Certain attributes from each breed, utilised in combination, result in greater effectiveness.

Border Collies are extremely energetic, acrobatic and athletic and are perceived by birds as natural predators. As a result, birds soon learn that the runway area is frequented and patrolled by the dogs and so keep away from those areas.

Springer Spaniels’ attributes include a willingness to work, retrieval of bird carcasses from the runway and a keenness to flush in tall grass where Helmeted Guineafowls seek cover.

We are confident that the combination of the two breeds will increase the effectiveness of the programme. This not only allows aircrafts to land and take off safely but also decreases collisions that are fatal to the birds.

Kind regards,
Unathi Batyashe-Fillis

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