A dog squad has been formed to check wildlife crimes at the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR). The squad has a Labrador and a German Shepherd. "The German Shepherd has been trained to follow poachers, while the Labrador will be engaged to find out if poison was used to kill the animal," said regional chief conservator of forests (RCCF) Anup Naik.
The canines will be handled by two trained personnel. "The dogs were trained for nine months at the National Training Centre for Dogs, Tekanpur, MP. The two forest guards, who will handle the dogs underwent three months training. It was exclusively meant for investigating wildlife-related crimes," said STR deputy director Bikash Ranjan Dash.
The dogs have been currently housed in a temporary kennel at Jashipur. "A special dog kennel is being constructed. As per our estimate, Rs 5,000 will be spent on the maintenance of each dog," Dash added.
He said after the forest staff come across a case of poaching, they don't know what to do immediately. The dogs will help us trail poachers, he said.
Different kinds of pesticides are used to poison animals, particularly elephants. Elephants in Mayurbhanj district are still falling prey to poachers from Jharkhand. In the last four years, 20 wild tuskers were poisoned in Similipal Tiger Reserve.
Last year, three wild elephants were killed by poachers. "The sanctuary had 350 elephants in 2009. Although 20 of them were killed by poachers, birth of 23 elephant calves in last four years, has helped keep the population intact," said a STR official.