Forum > Wildlife Poaching > Dogs Are the Secret Weapon to Stop Wildlife Poaching

Posted by Manisha Gupta on December 28, 2016


Dogs are man’s best friend. It is a said fact that humans have 5 million scent receptors in their noses, but dogs have up to 220 million. These millions of sensory scent receptors is what makes them so special. A dog’s brain is an expert for identifying scents. They even have an additional olfactory organ that is devoted just for detecting pheromones. The percentage of the dog’s brain that is dedicated to scrutinizing these scents is actually 40 times larger than that of a human! It’s been estimated that dogs can identify smells 10,000 times better than nasally challenged humans. Sniffer dogs, also known as detection dogs, are trained for using its senses to their utmost capacity. They are employed to detect illegal wildlife poaching products, explosives, illegal drugs, currency, or blood. Some sniffer dogs are used in drug raids to locate narcotics and individuals hiding from the police. These sniffer dogs are very useful even after their retirement. Their extraordinary abilities can be put to better use. These sniffer dogs can be of help to find and locate wildlife poaching activities.

In the last ten years, Indian aurochs, the Indian cheetah, and the pink-headed duck have gone extinct. Animals such as the Ganges river dolphins, purple frog, the Himalayan quail, one-horn rhinoceros, and the Indian hornbill are listed in the critically endangered category. Many of the tiger reserves in India are depleting and that too due to tigers been poached for their skin. Tiger poaching is carried out in large numbers in India. Rhino horns are smuggled outside India in exchange for a huge sum of money. Elephants are killed in large numbers; leopard skin is highly valued and is hunted to make fancy leather wallets, handbags, fur coats, and jackets. Mongooses are poached and killed for hair, snake for their skin, tigers, leopards for their bones, claws, skin, and whiskers, rhinos for their horns, elephants for their tusks, the list is endless. 

Sniffer dogs are used to sniff out ivory and rhino horns as well as other illegal animal trade products. Illegal wildlife poaching in India is prevalent because of many causes. These sniffer dogs work in association with other NGO’s, government authorities and other agencies at various places such as wildlife reserves, airports, sanctuaries, nature parks, mountainous regions, forests, and wetlands. Unlike humans, they can withstand harsh climatic conditions and work round the clock. They can work with the same capabilities in rain, snow, heat, and other temperature fluctuations. However, in the dogs’ species as well, there are different breeds of dogs for different geographical locations. Breeds such as beagle, German shepherds, and bloodhounds have more scent receptors compared to dachshund and fox terrier. The climatic conditions in which they work also do matter. For example: German shepherds are used in locations that exhibit more heat. Also, these German shepherds have much more stamina to sustain that heat. In South Africa, dogs are trained for skydiving to catch poachers. The advantage that these dogs possess over police officials or other trainers is that these dogs can catch the criminals even after they have fled. All thanks to their olfactory lobes!

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