Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kaziranga National Park Employs Sniffer Dogs in Battle Against Poaching

A sniffer dog training school under the TRAFFIC India program

When most people think of sniffer dogs, they think of dogs trained to sniff out illegal contraband. Usually this includes narcotics, weapons, explosives, and other illicit items considered to be life-threatening among human kind. But now, these top dogs have been employed to help combat a different kind of enemy: the illegal poaching and trafficking of wildlife. One of the most notable places to find these quadrupedal security officials is in Kenya, where they are employed by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to seize rhino horns and elephant tusks. Now, this idea is being implemented in India's Kaziranga National Park to help officials bring down poachers. The man behind the idea of using dogs to combat poaching is Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, secretary general of Assam-based NGO Aaranyak. According to Dr. Talukdar, the idea was suggested by his friend to get a dog used extensively by the U.S Secret Service. As a result, he got Jorba, a now 15-month-old Belgian Malinois and his sister Zerina and formed the K-9 squad with support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF). In August 2011, Jorba was put to the test in Assam's Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary where he helped track down a 2-km trail used by poachers. He led the authorities right up to a village, where the poachers were sheltered, resulting in their arrest. Soon after, Jorba joined the anti-poaching service along with Kaziranga's forest guards.
The Belgian Malinois; known to assist both the law enforcement and the military is now helping in the battle against the illegal wildlife trade.

It is extremely amazing to see how dogs trained to locate and seize narcotics, weapons, and other illegal contraband deemed life-threatening to the public be employed in helping save endangered wildlife from the deathly hands of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. And none could have been the choice for this task than the German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian) and its Belgian counterpart, the Malinois. With their high intelligence and superb trainability, combined with a keen sense of smell, powerful stamina, and a strong bite force, they are truly an ideal breed of super dogs. Normally, they have assisted both the law enforcement and the military around the world in occupations ranging from sniffing out dangerous contraband to apprehending criminals and terrorists. The Belgian Malinois, in particular, was made famous recently as a member of the U.S Navy's SEAL Team Six that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. But now, this breed and the German Shepherd are becoming famous in the ongoing battle against poaching and wildlife trade.
The German Shepherd is also being employed for the task.

In India, the wildlife trade monitoring program TRAFFIC is running a successful program in training these dogs to detect a wide range of illegal wildlife products. In addition to that, some dogs have even been stationed in some Indian states to carry out their jobs. For example, seven German Shepherds are working in Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. One of the notable dogs, Tracey, helped recover a pair of elephant tusks in Jharkhand's Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition to that, another named Jackie helped capture two poachers in the Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh and Raja of Maharashtra's Brahmapuri Wildlife Division assisted in solving a leopard-poaching case resulting in the arrest of seven poachers. I personally believe that the use of Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds in this battle should be implemented in other nations, especially those that function as major hubs for illegal activities regarding the wildlife. This way, it would make it tough for poachers and all other operators of the wildlife trade. Nonetheless, this article gives a clear representation of how dogs can be used in helping save lives of other animals as well as people.

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