TRAFFIC’s sniffer and detector dogs curbing wildlife crime in India
Illicit trade of wildlife is reported to be the fourth most substantial organised criminal activity globally, threatening the survival of many wildlife species. In India, poaching for illegal wildlife trade is prevalent in some areas with the potential to have devastating impacts on the targeted wildlife. To curb this, it is necessary that the best enforcement practices are deployed against such crimes. Sniffer dog’s contribution in detection and prevention of wildlife crimes is being seen as a game changer for wildlife protection in India.
Dogs are incredible sniffers, their olfactory capabilities are 10,000 to 1,00,000 times stronger than those of humans. No doubt they are rightly the 'man's best friends' leading ahead in the way to curb illicit trade in wildlife.
In 2008, TRAFFIC with support from WWF-India launched the first wildlife sniffer dog training programme in India and trained two wildlife sniffer dog squads at the Basic Training Centre, Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (BTC-ITBP), Panchkula, Haryana. These wildlife sniffer dog squads were deployed for the first time to the states of Haryana and Uttarakhand.
Since then, these trained dogs popularly known as SUPER SNIFFERS have captured interest of wildlife enforcement agencies, and have showed their tremendous potential in seizing wildlife products, nabbing poachers and in-turn acting as strong deterrents to wildlife crime in India.
* One sniffer dog squad consists of one sniffer dog and two handlers who undergo the training together under TRAFFIC’s programme.
Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Odisha.
- Forest Departments
- Railways Protection Force (RPF) - Northern, Southern, Eastern, and West Central regions.
- National Training Centre for Dog (NTCD), BSF Academy, Tekanpur Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
- 23rd Battalion Special Armed Force Police Dog Training Centre, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
- Basic Training Centre, Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (BTC-ITBP), Panchkula, Haryana
- German Shepherds
- Belgian Malinois
The dogs are trained to detect bone and skin of tigers and leopards, elephant tusk, bear bile, deer antlers and plant products like Red Sanders and Caterpillar Fungus.
In the field, these dogs have adapted their sniffing skills to detect an array of additional wildlife parts and derivatives including deer meat, live birds, snakes, porcupines, turtles, tortoises and marine products.
Figure 1: Wildlife Sniffer Dog Squads deployed in India