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Assam: K9 dog squad helps forest officials track Rhino poachers

An especially trained dog squad, deployed in the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Assam, has been tracking those involved in Rhino poaching activities.

One of India’s leading biodiversity conservation organizations, Aaranyak set up the country’s first dog squad to check wildlife crimes in 2011 with one Belgian Malinois dog named Zorba.

Zorba was actively engaged in anti-poaching operations for a span of over eight years in various Rhino protection areas in Assam, including Kaziranga National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, and Orang National Park.

During this period, Zorba has assisted wildlife officials track down more than 60 poachers in the state.

Speaking about Zorba’s invaluable contribution towards preventing wildlife crime, CEO of Aaranyak– Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar– said that this particular breed was preferred to set up Aaranyak’s K9 squad because of their extreme prey drive capability.

“Once they pick up a scent and track and come to a lead, they have the capability of outrunning and bringing the suspect down, in case it (suspect) tries to escape. The members of our K9 squad including Zorba have assisted the forest officials with vital clues of poachers’ exit routes after the rhino poaching, which eventually leads to the arrest of culprits by the forest and police officials in different cases,” Dr Talukdar said.

Zorba was relieved of its duty in December 2019 and is currently under intensive care.

The K9 dog squad of Aaranyak, comprising six Belgian Melinoise units along with its handlers, has been actively assisting forest and police officials in Kaziranga and Manas National Park as well as other rhino-bearing areas in Assam resulting in the arrest of a number of poachers by the law enforcement agencies.

The K9 unit has been operating with generous support received from UK-based organisation, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation since 2011 and NABU-Germany (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) since 2017.

During the 76th Independence Day celebration, Aaranyak honoured Zorba– the first member of the organisation’s K9 unit at its headquarters here as part of its Independence Day celebration.

Aaranyak’s vice-president Dilip Chetry also felicitated this canine hero during the Independence Day celebration.

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