Similipal has got its canine investigating team. Nine months after it set about the job, a two-dog unit, specially trained by the Border Security Force (BSF), is now on the ground to help the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) authorities investigate poaching.
A German Shepherd and a Labrador __ the first, a sniffer and the second, a tracker __ were sent to the National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) under the BSF at Tekanpur in Madhya Pradesh. The canines have been specially trained with investigating cases of poisoning, incidence of which has risen alarmingly in the tiger habitat.
With support from Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, the STR management sought a special training for its dog units as well as the handlers from the BSF. A special module was devised for the two canines too at the NTCD.
The two dogs have been imparted training in identifying different types of poisons, most of which come in from of insecticides as the hunters use the substances to kill large animals like elephants. Most of these huntings take place during the ritualistic hunting, known as Akhand Shikar.
“The salt licks and water bodies are laced with poisons and wild animals fall prey to the hunters’ trap. That is why we wanted the dog unit to be trained in poison identification so that we can crack such cases with accuracy. If the tracker can lead us to the source of the poison, we can be successful in arresting the perpetrators as well the trend,” STR Field Director and Regional Chief Conservator of Forests, Baripada, Anup Kumar Nayak said.
The canines, with the handlers and two forest guards, are currently posted at Jashipur and kennels are being built for them. The squad will not be stationed at one point but keep moving from one place to another basing on the need.
Very few tiger reserves in India have their own dog squad. In fact, Satkosia in Odisha, before it was notified as a TR, had a two-member squad, but it did not last long.