By Josh Weiss-Roessler
Chances are you’re familiar with drug-sniffing dogs. And you’ve probably heard how dogs can use their incredible sense of smell to uncover bombs. But you probably haven’t heard of Gabon’s dynamic duo: Lumi and Cooper.
Since 2012, this odd couple (Lumi is a yellow cocker spaniel; Cooper is a small Labrador with a red coat) has been helping the Gabonese National Park Agency to stem something that has become a serious problem in the country: poaching.
Why is poaching so big in the country? Because the Gabonese natural wilderness (a rainforest covers three-fourths of the nation) is rich in things that poachers want, including shark fin, leopard skin, primate meat, products of the iboga tree and — of course — ivory.
How bad is it? Poachers have murdered over 11,000 elephants there since 2004, and officials liken it to the illegal drug trade in America.
Dogs Make Humans’ Job Easier Before Lumi and Cooper brought their noses to the defense of Gabon’s wildlife, human park officials had their work cut out for them. If they searched for contraband that might be in one of hundreds of shipping containers, they needed to go through the painstaking process of opening up each and every one. The time and resources required were enormous, and often park officials just couldn’t do it.
But with their two super-sniffers, anti-poaching teams can let the dogs point them where they need to go. Already, Lumi and Cooper have uncovered things like bushmeat, dried shark fin, and worked ivory, and their team’s increasing number of discoveries has had an unintended effect — they’re motivating the rest of the human pack! The other teams that don’t have canine members yet have worked harder so they don’t fall too far behind.
All in all, the experiment with Lumi and Cooper has worked out so well that officials are hoping to have sixteen anti-poaching dogs working within the next decade. More....