Assam : Trained K9 Dog Squad Tracking-Down Poachers Along National Parks & Wildlife Sanctuaries

Posted in Assam, Featured, Northeast


  • NET Web Desk

A trained dog squad in Assam, dubbed as the first-of-its-kind in the country, is helping to locate the whereabouts of poachers along the state’s national parks and wildlife sanctuaries; thereby aiding the forest security personnel in conservation efforts.

Its worthy to note that the nation’s first dog squad for wildlife crimes was established in Assam under the initiative of biodiversity organization ‘Aaranyak’ in 2011, incorporating of one male Belgian Malinois named Zorba.

According to the Secretary General of the body – Bibhab Talukdar, the dog squad known as the ‘K9 unit’ has over the years evolved into a ‘very efficient and well-trained one” in tracking down wildlife crimes.

The team, which was founded in 2011 by the biodiversity organisation “Aranyak” with just one Belgian Malinois has grown to seven dogs, with more than one handler for each of them. Two more dogs are being trained here, Talukdar told PTI.

The team’s first canine – Zorba, is credited with apprehending 60 poachers, 50 of which are in Kaziranga National Park, famed globally for its one-horned rhinos. The dog had served mostly in KNP from 2012 till his retirement from service in 2019. On the occasion of Independence Day 2022, he was conferred with a traditional ‘gamosa’ and commendation.

Additionally, he served on numerous occasions in other national parks. One incident of his expertise in tracking poachers stands out in Orang National Park in the state.

He then provided crucial clues from the crime scene, leading to the identification of the suspect’s residence outside the Park. Later, the accused was nabbed by forest and police officials, Talukdar said.

Meanwhile, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) and head of forest force – M K Yadava noted that he was very fortunate to have worked with Zorba at Kaziranga.

“Those were difficult days as poaching was at its height and the K9 team made so much difference in dealing with wildlife crimes,” he said.

Anil Das, Zorba’s sole handler, claimed that he is enjoying retirement at the K9 camp here with better health care and no field work in hazardous situations.

Now, it is the responsibility of his successors – Leon, Jubi and Emy to keep vigil in the different ranges of Kaziranga. Then there is Misky in Pobitora wildlife sanctuary, Sheela in Raimona and Veera in Orang National Park.

“Members of our K9 squad, including Zorba, have assisted the forest officials with vital clues of poachers’ exit routes after the rhino poaching incidents, leading to arrest of culprits by the forest and police officials in different cases,” he said.

The Belgian Malinois breed was selected for the purpose due to their extreme prey drive capability, Talukdar said.

“Once they pick up a scent, track and come to a lead, they have the capability of outrunning and bringing the suspect down if the person tries to escape,” Talukdar said.

This breed has been successfully used as military dog by American and European forces and has also shown exemplary performance in sniffing out explosives and drugs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The K9 unit has been running with generous support received from the UK-based organization, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation since 2011 and NABU-Germany since 2017, he added.

Tags: , , , ,
More Articles