Poachers watch out as K-9 on guard


GUWAHATI: The sun was shining bright on the hilly terrain overlooking Deepor Beel, the Ramsar Site, at the outskirt of Guwahati city. The beaten jungle track on the undulated forested terrain was dotted with elephant droppings here and there indicating the strong presence of pachyderms inside the forest.

Oblivious of the heat and humidity of forenoon of Wednesday, Daryll Pleasants, a proficient dog trainer from the UK, was focused on the job at hand entrusted to him by Aaranyak, the top-line biodiversity conservation and research organisation here.

Trainer Darryl working with young handlers of K-9 squad. ST Photo

Daryll’s invaluable service has been roped in by Aaranyak to train its pack of Belgian Malinois that constitutes its prized and most sought after K-9 brigade, the anti-poaching dog squad that has provided a tremendous lift to anti-poaching apparatus and investigation procedures in Assam where poachers are on the prowl in wildlife protection areas.

“Our dog squad has been utilized not only by wildlife authority in Assam to add teeth to investigation and vigil against poachers, but also by police and security forces to secure surroundings where VVIPS are to attend important engagements,” said Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, the Secretary General and the CEO of Aaranyak while standing witness to the rigorous training session for the squad and the young group of local dog handlers that was going on under the watchful eyes of Daryll.

“Aaranyak has got a fantastic pack of Belgian Malinois. They are just wonderfully responsive, intelligent and diligent. The group of handlers too are very dedicated, efficient and has set up good rapport with the K-9. That is very important because a dog will be as good as its handler,” Daryll said while informing that the day’s training was focused on tracking which will be followed by session on aggression in following days.

An experienced trainer who has worked in many parts of the globe especially in Kenya, Daryll said the humid and hot climate of Assam especially during summer months won’t be a problem for the K-9 squad as a dog adopts to a new climate and environment very fast.

He had only few words of caution like sniffer dogs should be used judiciously taking care that they get sufficient rest during the work — while chasing a target a dog should be made to work for maximum one hour at a stretch to conserve its energy and efficiency. Training at a regular interval is necessary to keep the squad very sharp.

Aaranyak’s  K-9 squad that is being used to support anti-poaching operations in the three national parks of the state including Kaziranga National Park. The special abilities of the dog squad have been established while tracking and apprehending poachers in Kaziranga and Orang National Parks. The squad of dogs has been trained to track and detect wildlife parts such as rhino horns, tiger and leopard skin and bones, bear bile, ivory and others.

The sponsors of the dog squads include Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF), Care for the Wild International.

The K-9 dog squad of Aaranyak was launched in 2011 with induction of Jorba, a male Belgian Malinois sponsored by the Foundation. The K-9 squad has been successful in providing vital clues from wildlife crime scenes

“The K-9 dog unit in Kaziranga provided vital clues to the park officials and police from a scene of crime, leading to nearest hideout sites which helped the enforcement agencies nab more than 40 poachers since 2013,” Dr Talukdar said

He further informed that the squad had been utlised by Assam Police on several occasions in the interests of fortifying VVIP security cover too.

But for the dedication and hardwork of young handlers –Minkul, Anil, Gaura,  Rahul, Nirmal, Mrigen, Sanataon, Bitumoni – K-9 would not have been as efficient as it is today.


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