Bloodhound dogs will stop poachers in Africa!
In recent years, many countries have tightened the ban on the import and sale of ivory. And this is a serious step towards preventing poaching that reigns in Africa and threatens certain species of animals living there. However, the prohibitions are not always effective: a huge amount of ivory and not only are smuggled out of the continent every day.
In the containers used for international transport, the horns of rhinos, dying pangolin dinosaurs, rare plants and trees are expertly hidden. However, the BBC agency reports that there is a port in which they developed a completely new tactic that will stop the illegal trade in wild animals. These tactics are specially trained dogs.
A project to use dogs to stop illegal trade is now being tested for effectiveness at the port of Mombasa in Kenya, which is considered the center of international ivory trade. According to BBC estimates, from 2009 to 2014, almost 40,000 pounds (over 18 tons) of bone were seized in the port, which corresponds to approximately 2,400 elephants. However, this figure does not include goods that have nevertheless been successfully exported from the country.
In order to expose illegal trade, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the wildlife trade organization TRAFFIC, and Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation Service have joined forces to train dog-seeking dogs.This process is referred to as RASCO (Remote Air Sampling for Canine Olfaction). Dogs are first trained to recognize the smell of ivory, rhino horns, and other materials that are often smuggled. Then the workers take a sample of air from the trading container, which through a special filter enters the room in which the dog is located. If she continues to sit quietly, it means that the container does not contain prohibited materials.
Bloodhounds were used in the port of Kenya before RASCO, and in just 6 months they helped expose 26 shipments of illegal goods. But sniffing up to two thousand containers a day is not a fast task, besides, dogs often get tired in the heat. Sometimes the examination and emptying of a suspected container takes several hours, because finding an illegal product cleverly hidden in it is not so simple. The new method allows dogs to examine the contents of the container in just a few minutes and from a comfortable room with climate control.
“This technique can change everything by reducing the trade in parts of the body of endangered animals in overseas markets such as Southeast Asia, for example,” said Drew McVey of WWF, head of the East African Wildlife Crime Division. - A person’s best friend is a terrible dream for smugglers: a dog’s sense of smell will catch even the smallest amount of prohibited goods in a 12-meter container. Stopping smuggling is a must if we want to crack down on this huge industry that affects the lives of countless animal species and millions of people around the world. ”
But Mombasa is not the only place where dog breeders help “sniff” ivory poachers. Since 2009, in the Mara Triangle, the northwestern part of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, bloodhound labradors have been used in vehicles to detect weapons, ivory and wild meat. Bloodhounds also help track down poachers in the reserve.
WWF hoped that RASCO and other new projects will help raise people's awareness of the problem of illegal wildlife trade, as well as draw world attention to this topic at the Conference on illegal wildlife trade, which will be held in October in London.