HUBBALLI: Karnataka may soon have more sniffer dogs in its forest areas for wildlife crime detection. Currently, the state has only two trained sniffer dogs for the purpose.
The wildlife experts are demanding an increase in the number of sniffer dogs as it will help curb poaching incidents.
"The mere presence of canine squad will ensure regulation in poaching and entry to forest areas. As these dogs are good at catching a scent, the poachers do not take risk of poaching. The sniffer dogs can also be used in human-wildlife co-conflict mitigation" said a wildlife expert.
Last week, Rana, the sniffer dog from Bandipur Tiger Reserve managed to trace the tiger shooters from Nagarhole. The dog led to the house of a poacher and the raiding team recovered body parts of the tiger and ammunition.
So far, the Karnataka Forest Department had inducted four sniffer dogs, two in Nagarhole and each one at Bandipur and Kali Tiger Reserves in Dandeli. The two dogs which were housed at Nagarhole had died within the month of induction. However, Rana and Quipper are continuing their serves at Bandipur and Kali Reserve respectively.
Dr. Saket Badola, Head of Traffic-India, the wildlife trade monitoring group, pointed out that more canine squads are expected to come up in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the coming months. "The procurement has slowdown due to the ongoing pandemic. But there is a demand from various forest agencies to have sniffers to help them in wildlife crime detection," he said.
Traffic India has been instrumental in facilitating the sniffer dogs to user agencies such as forest departments, airports, and railways.
These sniffer dogs are out under nine-month-long training along with the forest guards. Though the training is similar to those of police canines, the sniffer dogs working in forests are trained to find the wildlife contraband such as skin, bones, and other animal parts.
A senior forest official hinted that additional canine squads will be created under the forest department. "A sniffer dog will be deputed to Kempe Gowda International Airport in Bengaluru to help agencies to track smuggling of wildlife contraband. Similarly, there are plans to reinitiate the dog squad at Nagarhole Reserve," the official said.