Posted on 23 February 2024
Sniffer Dog
As 2024 begins, TRAFFIC and WWF-India’s pioneering wildlife sniffer dog training programme enters its 16th year in India. Also to complete a decade of service this year is Shera, a wildlife sniffer dog trained under the programme.

Shera’s journey to become a wildlife sniffer dog started in 2014 when he was just a few months old German Shepherd dog. He, along with his handlers Vimlesh Byalsa and Basant Pandey underwent rigorous training at the 23rd Battalion of the Special Armed Forces Dog Training Centre, Bhopal for nine months before joining the Tiger Strike Force, a special Madhya Pradesh Forest Department unit in Jabalpur, in 2015.

In just a few months of his service, Shera, with support from his handlers, helped bust two wildlife crime cases that led to the recovery of a Tiger skin and a Leopard skin. Since then, Shera has made remarkable strides to protect and conserve the region's wildlife.  

During his nearly 10 years of service, Shera has repeatedly established himself as an ace tracker and sniffer dog. He has assisted in solving 25+ wildlife crime cases involving many protected species. His efforts have led to the arrest of over 40 alleged poachers. Shera’s presence during the patrol has also proved to be a considerable deterrent to wildlife crime in the region.  

In 2020, in the Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh, Shera demonstrated his skills by helping retrieve the hidden carcass of an electrocuted Tiger. After sniffing the crime scene, Shera tracked the culprits to their hideouts, which resulted in the arrest of six alleged poachers.

In another incident, Shera alerted his handler about something suspicious in a nearby house while patrolling along with the team in the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh. A search was conducted, and a Spotted Deer hide was recovered, further leading to the arrest of six alleged poachers.

During the same year, Shera also helped solve an Elephant electrocution case in Bargi, Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh. He led the team of forest officials from the crime scene to the hideouts of the alleged poachers within a record time.

In 2021, at Temarbhita, Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh, Shera helped recover the corpse of a strangulated Leopard caught in a snare trap, though the trap was missing from the crime scene. After picking up the scent, Shera led the forest officials to the accused's house. Three were arrested, and the trap and other hunting equipment were recovered.

Besides electrocution, snaring and other wildlife crime cases, Shera also helped solve poisoning cases. For example, in 2021 at Sihora, Jabalpur district, Madhya Pradesh,  a Leopard was found in an incapacitated state a few meters away from the poisoned corpse of a domestic buffalo. After analysing clues from the crime scene, Shera’s present handler Kailash Charar, made him sniff the evidence, and after that, Shera tracked down the accused, who was later arrested.

Shri Raja Khare, Officer in Charge of Tiger Strike Force, Jabalpur, said, “Shera’s hard work and contribution as a wildlife sniffer and tracker dog in the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department is commendable. Shera is a good-natured, obedient and highly skilled sniffer dog. Even after nearly 10 years of excellent service, he and his handler, Kailash, continue to be role models for the already working and upcoming generations of wildlife sniffer dog squads for wildlife crime investigation.”

Shri Dhiraj Kumar Chauhan, Officer in Charge of Special Task Force, Bhopal, added,  “Service of Shera as a wildlife sniffer dog is crucial to the Forest Department. He has played an important and decisive role in many wildlife crime cases. His contribution in strengthening wildlife protection is unforgettable.”
According to Shera’s handlers, he is truly an asset to their team, and their bond is inseparable.
Shera has also received multiple commendations at the district and state level, including ‘Certificates of Appreciation’ from the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) and the Forest Department. Shera also won 2nd place in two categories in the first Jabalpur Obedience Trails of the National Dog Show 2024, organised by the Kennel Club of Mahakaushal, Madhya Pradesh.

After 10 years of exceptional service, Shera is set to retire by summer this year. TRAFFIC and WWF-India are grateful to him for his relentless service in curbing wildlife crime and wish him a safe and healthy retirement.
Sniffer Dog
© TRAFFIC India Enlarge
sniffer dog
© TRAFFIC India Enlarge
Donate to WWF

Your support will help us build a future where humans live in harmony with nature.