‘Super Sniffer' dog squad to keep eye on cheetahs at Kuno National Park
Seven decades after cheetahs became extinct in India, eight big cats were flown all the way from Namibia and welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17 in the park.
A squad of 'super sniffer’ dogs is being trained to ensure the protection of the eight cheetahs that were released in the Kuno National Park recently.
According to an ANI report, a five-month-old German Shepherd named 'Ilu' is being separately trained at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force's (ITBP) National National Training Centre to join the group.
Ilu will complete her training in the next seven months - three months of basic and four months of advanced training, and will then get deployed on the job from April next year at Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park.
She will be stationed on the national park's outskirts, alongside forest guards, to safeguard cheetahs and other wildlife from poachers.
The dogs will be taught to recognise tiger and leopard skins, bones, elephant tusks and other body parts, bear bile, red sanders, and a host of other illicit animal items during the training.
Ishwar Singh Duhan, inspector general of basic training centre of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (BTC-ITBP) said the dogs are being given specialised training. “They are being trained by us in collaboration with TRAFFIC (a wildlife trade monitoring network) and WWF-India (World Wide Fund for Nature India)," he said.
"Dogs trained at the ITBP dog training centre have a high rate of wildlife crime detection. There are scores of success stories where dogs have helped in the arrest of poachers and recoveries of wildlife species and their remains," he said.
He said the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has deployed wildlife sniffer dog squads for the first time in India and it has helped them to detect the smuggling of contraband and rare species of wildlife through the railway network.
Seven decades after cheetahs became extinct in India, eight big cats were flown all the way from Namibia and welcomed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17 in the park. The day also coincided with Modi’s 72nd birthday. Among the eight big cats, five are female and three are male.
This also turned out to be the world’s first inter-continental cheetah translocation project. The cheetahs are currently kept in quarantine. Veterinarians who accompanied them are also staying at KNP for a month to monitor the cheetahs' behaviour and health before releasing them into a 6sq-km soft-release habitat.