SELOUS SCOUTS, FOXHOUNDS, BEACONS AND TRANSMITTERS
An interesting experimental foray undertaken by the Rhodesian Army’s
tracking unit, the Selous Scouts was that of using English foxhounds in the
tactical tracking role, which was tried with little success in this case. It was
suggested by a person familiar with canine abilities that a dogs might be
trained to track and hunt terrorist in areas of thick bush in the same way they
hunt foxes in England. When contact was made, a helicopter-borne fireforce could
be deployed to finish off the job. Being innovative and progressive, the
commanding officer approved the experiment and subsequently thirty imported
hounds arrived for training.
Essential to the plan was to have a pack leader fitted with a locating
beacon and a voice activated transmitter so that when the dogs located their
prey, they would bark and activate the beacon. The fireforce standing by would
be mobilized, home in on the transmission from the beacon, and engage the
guerrilla group, who would be, so the plan went, cowering under the assault of
thirty yapping dogs.
the idea was good (if a little bizarre) in theory, in practice it was a failure.
The dogs responded well to training, and a “top dog” emerged to lead
the pack, but when tested in the field the whole plan unraveled.
Being hunting dogs with many generations of specialized breeding, the
hounds, true to their instincts, preferred to follow the sent of deer and small
furry animals rather than that of Homo sapiens. There is no doubt, however, that
if this experiment had continued over a longer period of time, something more
positive would have evolved.