Eight new "super sniffers" join forces to protect India’s wildlife
New Delhi, India, 3rd July 2020—Eight wildlife sniffer and tracker dogs, popularly known as "Super Sniffers" under TRAFFIC’s programme in India, graduated on 30th June 2020 taking the total number of India’s wildlife sniffer dog force to 74.
When aged 6–9 months, the eight young German Shepherd dogs along with their handlers began their nine-month long training in September 2019 at the Police Training School (Dogs), Special Armed Forces, 23rd Battalion, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh under TRAFFIC and WWF-India’s programme of training and deploying sniffer dogs to combat wildlife crime. The dog squads passed the graduation test with flying colours and participated in a ceremony organised at the training centre on 30th June, allowing them to showcase their skills.
Of the eight wildlife sniffer dog squads, two will be deployed by the Railway Protection Force (RPF)–one each at the Northern and Eastern Zone; two each by Maharashtra and West Bengal Forest Departments; and one each by Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Arunachal Pradesh Forest Departments.
It will be the first time the RPF will deploy wildlife sniffer dogs for controlling smuggling of wildlife contraband. Railways are often a preferred mode of transportation for wildlife criminals, hence RPF and TRAFFIC considered it crucial to collaborate on deployment of sniffer dog squads at critical places to control trafficking of wild animals and their products through railways.
The Forest Department of Arunachal Pradesh will also be deploying wildlife sniffer dogs for the first time at Pakke Tiger Reserve.
Illicit activities related to wildlife are a major conservation challenge and the enforcement agencies have to deploy best practices to combat them. Use of wildlife sniffer dogs is seen as a game changer in the fight to curb wildlife crime.
Dr Saket Badola, IFS, Head of TRAFFIC’s India office
“The new collaboration between RPF and TRAFFIC for deployment of wildlife sniffer dogs, especially trained for wildlife crime detection, will go a long way to curb wildlife trafficking using railways,” added Dr Badola.
Mr R.P. Pandey, DSP (ADMIN) PTS (DOG), 23rd Batallion, SAWF Bhopal said, “The Police Dog Training School has experience of training sniffer dogs for curbing various crimes and we were happy to expand this training to include wildlife sniffer dogs. We wish the TRAFFIC Super Sniffers good luck in their mission to help curb wildlife crime in India and look forward to many more associations”.
TRAFFIC’s Super Sniffers have been successful in India in helping solve approximately 400 cases of wildlife seizures and poaching, and have helped in arrests of many criminals and in the recovery of body parts including skins and bones of tiger, leopard, bear bile, ivory, star tortoise, deer antlers, skins and meat, live birds, porcupine, pangolin scales, snares, traps and weapons.