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Ivory: Sniffer Dogs at African Ports Now on Smugglers' Tails

Jul 27, 2015 04:00 PM EDT
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Sniffer dogs to the elephant rescue: more trained dogs are being installed at African ports.
In the war against illegal ivory trafficking, trained dogs will add ammunition to many East African ports.
(Photo : Credit: African Wildlife Foundation)

Good news for elephants in Africa: Some intelligent, highly trained dogs are on their side now against the illegal but powerful ivory trade.

This starting group of eight dogs are graduates of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)'s Conservation Canine Program, and were --in this case -- trained alongside rangers in Tanzania's Wildlife Division and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), according to a release.

Brought in from Europe earlier this year, the dogs include a spaniel, German shepherd, Malinois and a German short-haired pointer, the release said.

They'll be installed as a detection team at the Port of Dar es Salaam, going through shipping containers to find smuggled ivory in the busy East African port. Later, sniffer dogs will be at Julius Nyerere International Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport, both of which are in Tanzania, noted the release.

"The use of sniffer dogs will help to crack down on the poaching of elephants and other wildlife species, and illegal traffickers will not be safe at any point, particularly at checkpoints," said Wildlife Division Head of Anti-Poaching Faustin Masalu, in the release.

Canines will also be installed at the Port of Mombasa, at the largest airport in Kenya, and at certain border crossings through which ivory is trafficked.
Kenya Wildlife Service Director General William Kiprono also noted that the dogs' training will help supplement an existing canine unit in Kenya, which was one of the first in the region for disrupting the illegal wildlife supply chain through ports, according to the National Resources Defense Council's magazine, OnEarth.

Between 2006 and 2014, more than 85 percent of seized savannah elephant ivory was traced back to East Africa, much of it from southeastern Tanzania. Between 2009 and 2015, an estimated 188,374 pounds of ivory was reportedly smuggled through Kenya's Port of Mombasa, the release said.

In Africa, dogs are already being used to help track poachers in the bush at many national parks and preserves, a release noted.

Follow Catherine on Twitter at @TreesWhales

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