Thanks to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Tanzanian National Parks (TANAPA) are now using dogs to detect illicit ivory. Jenny, a Belgian Malinois dog, and Dexter, an English springer spaniel, recently helped seize four elephant tusks in a village outside Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, leading to the arrest of an alleged poacher. The dogs are members of a new team of specially trained dogs that undergo a rigorous two-year training before being deployed.
Following a tipoff, Jenny and her handler examined a house in the village during a late night search, and successfully detected four concealed elephant tusks hidden in plastic under a parked vehicle.
The tusks are small, TANAPA officials report, and have presumably come from “young elephants that had not even reached middle age”. The ivory bust led to the arrest of one man, who is now reportedly assisting the Tanzanian authorities with their investigation.
“This ivory bust shows what a powerful tool the detection dog unit is,” WCS Project Director Aaron Nicholas said in a statement. “It adds to the government’s strategy to curb elephant poaching in Tanzania. Well done to the TANAPA handlers and staff and our four legged front-line friends.”
Tanzania is an elephant poaching hot spot. Elephant numbers in the country have declined by more than 60 percent between 2009 and 2014, according to a recent survey by the Tanzanian government.
The tusks have come presumably from “young elephants that had not even reached middle age”, experts say.