Image Courtesy: Coast Guard Compass
A sniffer dog’s sense of smell is no less than a detector. They can sniff anything that seems fishy in the slightest!
Rightly pointed out by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a sniffer dog can identify if there is ivory put in a 40ft container. The olfactory senses play an important role in the fight for protecting wildlife. Seeing the bigger picture, it helps to put an end to the criminal activity that acts as a threat to natural habitats of the wild animals. When goods are illegally traded, they are transported through waterway methods/modes.
Illegal wildlife trade has led to a decline in species. Out of which few have even gone extinct. Almost 90% of African elephants have fallen prey to such poaching methods in the 20th century, decreasing their number every year.
A new method has been piloted in the Mombasa port where tons of ivory is transported across Kenya. The process involves taking a sample size of air from a shipping container. The dog sniffs the air sample through which it can detect if the ship contains ivory or any other wild animal’s body part.
Using a similar technique, WWF, Kenya Wildlife Service and TRAFFIC (a non-governmental organization that works towards restricting wildlife trade) initiated a process to control the numbers of illegal wildlife trades across the globe. After the seizure of these products, a lot of information can be gathered through a DNA test and other medical tests conducted in forensic labs. This would help discover the origin of the animal and hence stop the illegal hunting in that particular city or country.
This newly discovered high tech is called RASCO which stands for Remote Air Sampling for Canine Olfaction, thus bringing an end to the felonious crime across the globe.
How does it work?
It begins with the removal of air from the respective containers before it has been moved through various filters. The dogs are then introduced to sniff the air sample suctioned of the vessel. If the air contains a body part or ivory, the dogs are trained to sit down indicating the trade.
When it all began?
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has used sniffer dogs to expose wildlife poaching and criminal activities since 2015 with the support of the African Wildlife Foundation. The AWF was also in charge of training KWS sniffer dogs. “The latest innovative technique of using sniffer dogs has eased out the detection to taken place in controlled temperature. Unlike before, wherein the officials generally faced various challenges that include logistics, a high volume of containers and hot working conditions for the dogs”, states World Wildlife Fund on its website.
Inputs are taken from the World Wildlife Fund Website