To augment the anti-poaching drive in its forests, Bengal is now mobilising the expertise of four sniffer dogs.
Rani, the first sniffer dog of the wildlife wing, has just been deployed in the Jaldapara National Park in north Bengal, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Pradeep Vyas said.
"We are in the process of procuring three more sniffer dogs who will be posted in the Buxa Tiger Reserve, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. This will help us combat anti-poaching and preventive operations," Vyas said.
The canine, mostly German Shepherd, are trained for sniffing out wildlife animals such as tiger and leopard bones and skins and bear bile, and are also detecting other wildlife contraband once deployed in the field.
"If we get report of deer skin or tiger body part seen in a particular village, we can send these sniffer dogs to trace it even from the underground. It will also help us in identifying poachers even after they have fled away from the spot," the PCCF said.
Any object left at the crime scene by the poacher or even his footprint becomes a tool for the dog to trace him with the power of its nose.
The Forest Department also plans to conduct drills with the dog squad in villages where poachers may be hiding.
"Even their presence in the village can deter someone from committing a crime," Vyas said.
The dogs are trained by wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC at Bhopal’s Dog Training Centre of Madhya Pradesh Police.
Along with each dog two human handlers, mostly staff of the Forest Department, are also trained at the centre.
"Training takes nine months. We will start a new batch from this January. Our batch strength will depend on requisitions from state governments. So far around 4-5 states have sought dogs from us," said Dr Shekhar Kumar Niraj, head of Traffic.