July 31, 2016
- as seen by -Claire Bracebridge
Conservation working dogs are fast becoming an essential tool in support of law enforcement efforts against rampant illegal wildlife trafficking. In Tanzania, elephants have been poached for their ivory at an unprecedented level with more than 50% reduction in the population in the last six years.
Humans and domestic dogs have had a long association spanning nearly 30,000 years, and dogs are uniquely attuned to human behavior. This, together with a dog’s highly developed sense of smell, helps the success of a human-canine team.
A detection, or sniffer, dog is taught to seek out the scent of an object. Through training, this activity is positively associated with a reward, usually a ball. The dog will “indicate” – sit or lie down and look at the handler – to signal the presence of the scent like elephant ivory. The reward is to play with the ball.
To the dog, it is just a game of hide and seek. To us, it is a precise and effective means in the fight to save species from extinction.
Nikon D4, Kodak 360