Rana to continue at Bandipur Tiger Reserve; other three dogs deployed at BRT, Kali Tiger Reserve and Nagarahole National Park
Caption: Qwipper with its handlers S.B. Venkatesh and D. Krishna.
By M.T. Yogesh Kumar
Karnataka’s reserve forests and Tiger reserves are favourite places for poachers and smugglers despite a series of measures by the Forest Department. In its efforts to put an end to poaching, the Department has increased patrolling and has even installed CCTV cameras inside the thick jungles. In spite of these measures, there seems to be no end for poaching and wildlife crimes.
Taking note of this, the State Forest Department has been sanctioned a plan where specially-trained sniffer dogs will be deputed across the forests to pick the scent of poachers and crack cases where technology and human intervention have seen little success.
While sanctioning the plan, the Government has taken into consideration the successful career of Rana, the German Shepherd dog that has achieved the status of a hero when it comes to detecting wildlife crimes.
Rana, trained in Bhopal, along with its handler Prakash S. Honnakore, is attached to the Special Tiger Protection Force. Following Rana’s success, the Department is now allocating sniffer dogs across other tiger reserves. Rana was trained for seven months to tackle cases of wildlife poaching. His skills include sniffing out wildlife products.
Usually, the dogs are trained under a project conducted by New Delhi-based Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC) and World Wide Fund for Nature, India, at 23rd Battalion of Special Armed Reserve Forces, Bhopal.
The dog squad’s responsibility is to scour and scan sensitive forest areas to catch criminals and is trained to sniff out wildlife products such as tiger and leopard bones and skins, meat, bear bile, etc. These sniffer dogs are also trained to detect wildlife contraband such as ivory, deer meat, live bird species, red sand boa, black buck, hare, python, rat snake and porcupine.
The first case Rana cracked was related to smuggling. Initially, the Department officials were hesitant of putting him on the case but Rana did not disappoint them at all. He sniffed a timber log and led the officers directly to the smugglers’ house in a nearby village, said its handler Prakash.
Rana is trained to reach the source even if a small clue like footprint is left by poachers and he can detect traces of any wildlife articles or cutting of trees.
Rana was handed over to Bandipur in 2015 and so far, he has cracked many cases. The notable ones are the two leopard poisoning case near Hanchipura village and tracking of a tiger that was a nightmare at Gudalur in Tamil Nadu. In the second case, Rana could lead the Forest Officials to the tiger by just sniffing the dead body of a watchman who was killed by that tiger.
“We are impressed by Rana’s performance and now we are glad that we have got three more dogs to add to our strength. We will use these dogs for wildlife crime control issues," said T. Hiralal, Director, Bandipur Tiger Reserve.
THREE MORE DOGS
The Forest Department has now got three more dogs to be deployed at Nagarahole National Park, Kali Tiger Reserve and the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve. While two dogs are of German Shepherd breed as Rana, one dog is Belgian Shepherd (Belgian Malinois) that resembles a German Shepherd.
The breeds are known for their sharp skills in crime detection and all of them have been provided special training in Bhopal.
One-year-four-month-old Jackie, the Belgian Shepherd will be deputed at Nagarahole National Park and K.M. Chikkala Kalkar and Mahesh have taken up the responsibility of being its handlers. One-year-ten-month-old Neuro, the German Shepherd will be sent to BRT Tiger Reserve and D. Abhilash and Nagendra will be its handlers. One-year-four-month-old Qwipper, another German Shepherd, will be sent to Kali Tiger Reserve along with its handlers S.B. Venkatesh and D. Krishna Kumar.