Wildlife sniffer dog brigade to be strengthened

Wednesday, Apr 29, 2015,16:17 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Kochi | With illegal wildlife trade evolving into an organised activity and posing a threat to survival of many species in the country, several states have decided to add more sniffer dogs in the exisiting brigade to bust poaching and smuggling cases.
According to TRAFFIC, a global wildlife trade monitoring network, India’s wildlife sniffer dog brigade will soon get a major boost with the addition of 14 new dogs and 28 handlers that will join the ranks of the Forest Department of Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Karnataka this year.
The dogs have been procured and are being trained under TRAFFIC’s sniffer dog training programme at the Dog Training Centre, 23rd Battalion of Special Armed Forces, Bhopal, an official of the network said. Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Head of TRAFFIC, India office said in a newsletter, that India’s wildlife is under grave danger from the ever increasing illegal wildlife trade and sniffer dogs have been playing a huge role in wildlife investigation and prosecution.
He said poachers and traders were employing new tools and technologies to expand their illicit business which was proving to be a major challenge for the forest department and other enforcement agencies. Use of sniffer dogs for wildlife crime prevention and detection has been employed as an effective tool and TRAFFIC has had experience in handling this in many countries across the globe, he said.
Shekhar said India has a huge forest cover and with only 12 trained sniffer dogs and another 14 in training, pressure for protecting India’s wildlife will remain immense on these four-legged creatures. It is our vision that at least four to five dogs are deployed in each state in the next few years for boosting wildlife conservation and protection efforts, he said.
Even though trained for sniffing out products such as tiger, leopard bones, skins and bear bile, these sniffer dogs are also detecting other wildlife contraband such as ivory, deer meat, live bird species, Red Sand, blackbuck, rat, python, hare, snake, porcupine and even weapons.