Sniffer Dogs Combat Poaching in India
Poaching wildlife has been a problem in many parts of the world where wildlife is theoretically protected. Unfortunately, India has been a source for much of the illegal wildlife trade.
Tiger bones and body parts and rhino horns have long been prizes for poachers, but a program called TRAFFIC has found great success using sniffer dogs to reduce poaching and protect wildlife – tigers, leopards, elephants, and more.
The trade in illegal wildlife has long been an organized activity and has threatened many species in India. Because of that, it was important that India became organized in its fight against poachers.
Since TRAFFIC had an impressive rate of success using sniffer dogs in other countries, India decided to adopt TRAFFIC’s Sniffer Dog Programme in 2008. In the following 7 years, 25 dogs and 52 handlers were trained and put to work.
Each dog undergoes nine months of training with a handler before both the dog and handler are sent to an area that needs help to control poaching.
Most of the dogs in the program are German Shepherds. They start their training to be sniffer dogs when they are six to nine months old. Their handler works with them throughout their training as they develop a strong bond and work together as a team.
Upon completion of training, sniffer dogs can detect tiger and leopard bone, tiger skin, bear bile. And once they are working in the field, they often adapt their abilities to detect other wildlife parts, including ivory, deer meat, wild birds, and more.
India’s sniffer dogs have been very successful in detecting wildlife crimes and making it possible to prosecute poachers. It is hoped that sniffer dogs will not only be effective in catching poachers in the act but also in serving as a deterrent so that India’s wildlife can flourish once again.