Specialized in sniffing the truth out of the wildlife crimes, 13 new members join the force of super sniffers for protecting national parks and sanctuaries of 8 Indian states. From 2008, these sniffer dogs were acknowledged for their assistance in capturing more than 200 illegal activities and smuggling of wildlife products like animal parts and hides. With the addition of 4 male Belgian Malinois and 9 female German Shepherds of the age 6-9 months, the number of super sniffers went up to 56. Apart from having the fixed set of skills, these dogs accompanied by their handlers were trained for sniffing bones, skins and other parts of leopard and tiger, red sanders and bear biles. The 9 months long training session took place at National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) at BSF Academy Tekanpur, Gwalior organised by TRAFFIC with WWF India backing up the training.
17 states have deployed these super sniffers till this time in the National parks of India. With rigorous stipulation of the parks and sanctuary administration, for the first time the dogs will be stationed in the forest areas of Uttar Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Odisha and Sikkim.The sniffer dogs that are being deployed at Sikkim possess an upskill of tracking Yarsagumba which is known as insect grass, illicitly exported through Nepal for making traditional medicines in China and is among the most traded wildlife contraband of the area. Out of the 13 new members, 2 out of them will be stationed at Forest Department check posts in Sikkim, two at Corbett Tiger Reserve in the sightseeing destination of Uttarakhand, one each at wildlife destinations namely Kaziranga National Park in Assam; Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh; Mannar Wildlife Division in Kerala; Satkosia Wildlife Division in Odisha; Port Blair in Andaman Nicobar Islands and Sundarban Tiger Reserve, Buxa Tiger Reserve and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal.
Let’s take a quick look at the steps taken by the Government for Wildlife Conservation in India
- Wildlife Protection Act 1972: Taking better steps towards Protection of Wildlife, the Central Government authorized the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Not only does the act render protection for the specified fauna but it also provides a special area for wildlife protection.
- Project Tiger: Started in the year 1973, the main aim of the Government of India behind this initiative is to take care of the population of Tigers in India, protecting them from extinction and conserving their habitats and major regions of biological importance.
- Crocodile Conservation Project: This project aims to protect the crocodile population of India who were on the verge of extinction. Apart from this, the project focuses on the improvement of management, captive breeding and to spread awareness so that people join the initiative.
- Project Elephant: 1992 was the year when the Government of India started the Project Elephant which focuses on providing technical and financial support to the 13 famous wildlife attractions of India namely Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala,Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal for conservation of the largest terrestrial mammal of India, Elephants.
- UNDP Sea Turtle Project: Another successful initiative for wildlife conservation,started in the year 1999 was the UNDP Sea Turtle Project. With the main aim of preserving the endangered and other olive ridley turtles, the project was enacted in 10 coastal tourist destinations of India with major prominence given to Odisha.
- Establishment of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau: In the mid of the year 2007, the Government of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, gave rise to the bureau for control over illicit trade of endangered species in the country.
- Organisations like Bombay Natural History Society, Wildlife Institute of India, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History stepped in for research on conservation of wildlife.
- To reduce the sudden decline in the population of Gyps vulture, Government banned the use of diclofenac drug for veterinary purposes.The Bombay Natural History Society started Conservation Breeding Programmes to conserves the species at Guwahati in Assam, Buxa in West Bengal and Pinjore in Haryana.
- Modifications in the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Integrated Development Of Wildlife Habitats’ with addition of ‘Recovery of Endangered Species’ component where 16 species have been discovered for recovery.
- As per the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, National Parks, Community and Conservation Reserves were created throughout India by covering the major natural habitats for the protection of the wildlife as a whole along with their habitats.
- Shoot at sight order was passed at Kaziranga National Park in Assam and Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand to tackle poaching in the reserves. Along with that, the authorities also created exceptions for villagers and visitors from entering the protected area.
- For better preservation and conservation of wildlife, The State Government is also provided technical and financial support via different Centrally Sponsored Schemes like ‘Project Tiger’, ‘Project Elephant’ and ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’.
- Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the Central Bureau of Investigation is given the legal authority to detain the wildlife malefactors.
- Forest Conservation Act 1980: The act follows the simple guidelines to help conserve and preserve forests of the country. It also restricts the use of forests for non-forest purposes and dereservation of forests without permission of the Central Government.
Several measures like acts, projects, and schemes for generating awareness towards wildlife protection in India have been taken until this time. And for a fact, the efforts yielded good results much to everyone’s surprise. As it’s not just the duty of the government or the national park administration but ours too, to make sure that we don’t cause any sort of harm to these creatures. What changes or improvements will the sniffer dogs bring is yet to be known but with hope in heart, we look forward to more such measures to be introduced that bring fruitful outcomes in the future as well so that the wild creatures also possess an equal share of the motherland.
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First Published on: 21 Dec, 2017