Sniffer Dogs Taking on Africa’s Poachers.

Sniffer dogs are now in use in wildlife organizations because they have proven they can effectively smell what we can’t see. Dog’s noses can be 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than those of human beings. Hence with the realization of this fact, organizations have used these canines in the detection of wildlife crimes. These dogs have sniffed out elephant tusks, rhino horns, and even contraband.

Poaching in Africa

Poachers in Africa have proven that it’s now getting more natural for them to acquire illegal firearms and even helicopters. These tools once acquired, assist them in the illegal hunting of wild animals in game parks and reserves. Hence, the use of canines has become increasingly significant in the African countries’ fight against poaching. Dogs with noses for detection are now providing a fighting chance for key locations in African countries. These canines with their good noses and friendly nature, help wildlife organizations in the seizure of illegal wildlife products. Hundreds of arrests have also become possible through this detector dogs at airports and ports. The canines sniff cargo and luggage for illegal products. These specially trained dogs make it more dangerous, risky, and expensive for poachers to illegally traffic products.

Sniffer Dogs and their Handlers

The dogs fit for this task of helping in the fight of poaching are specially selected. Most of these canines chosen and transported from outside countries like Europe. While in outside countries, they receive some basic training on tracking anything that produces odour. The dogs then receive further training upon their arrival to wildlife organizations in different locations. Afterwards, the dogs get paired up with handlers who are employees of wildlife authorities. Handlers receive training as well before they can be paired with dogs. They learn to care, respect, and love them adequately. Afterwards, matching of these handlers with canines is carefully done. The matching process gets done carefully since some of them have only ever known dogs as guard dogs or have not been around dogs before.

Some Sniffer Dog Breeds and their training

Some specific sniffer dog breeds have done exceptionally well as detector dogs. The Springer Spaniels and the Malinois breeds are examples of such breeds that top the list of good detector dogs. These breeds are ideally suited for these kinds of tasks since they are tough, intelligent, have excellent noses, cope with the heat, and are friendly. The dogs can also deal with travelling and are level-headed. Training this dog breeds into topmost detectors takes four to five months. Their working life lasts from 12 to 13 years, then their working life ends. During training, the dogs firstly acquire training on detecting the hardest smells like that of ivory. Later on, the simpler things to pick up like rhino horns and lion bones and teeth become taught. Trainers hide wildlife products in a selection of practical places.

Handlers work with their dogs off-leash to facilitate efficient inspection. They have to ensure that the dog is under control. When the dogs locate something, they perform a particular trained behaviour. Some of these trained behaviours include barking, lying down or sitting to indicate their detection. Handlers immediately perform searches when they see these indicators. When the dogs locate something, handlers reward them with food or chew toys and games. Through this positive reinforcement, the dogs learn which scents to concentrate on in future.


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