Dogs Tracking in Tanzania Put a Stop to Elephant Poaching

BY | November 25 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Dogs Tracking in Tanzania Put a Stop to Elephant Poaching

In Tanzania, dogs are lending a helping pawย to their animal brethren by tracking down elephant poachers. National Geographic magazine reported that The Big Life Foundation has been using

dogs to help catch poachers and help elephants

since 2011ย and has found the process very successful.

Dogs work with officials to get justice

As recently as October, the group's dogs tracked down a gang of poachers who had just killed an elephant outsideย Tarangire National Park. There are four German shepherds that the group uses - Max, Jazz, Rocky and Jerry - because of their tracking skills and endurance. But it's more than just their physical abilities, Damien Bell, director of the Big Life Tanzania chapter, told the magazine."Apart from their incredible tracking abilities, dogs are wonderful to work with because they don't have any political agendaโ€”they can't be compromised," he said.ย "Our dogs have tracked elephant poachers for up to eight hours at a time or more, through extreme conditionsโ€”heat, rain, wetlands, mountainsโ€”and still turned up results. They love their handlers, and they do a job until the job is done."These dogs have been borrowed by a number of law enforcement groups in the area and have made their name as successful tools for inย fighting for conservation and preservation. Although protecting elephants and tracking down criminals are important jobs, National Geographic explained that these dogs are good at it because they see it as a game - they have funย finding the bad guys.Dogs have been used in other parts of the continent, like South Africa, to track poachers and find wounded animals who may need help.

How do dogs track?ย 

People frequently talk about dogs tracking or searching by following a trail, butย do you know how they actually do it? Ohio Valley Search and Rescue, Inc. explained that it trains its dogs by starting with plenty of scents and rewards.Step one of training involved a scented item, the scent itself, a short trail of treats and tons of encouragement. Next, the trainers extend how long the trail is, then they change it's shape from a straight line to curved. Eventually treats are removed and the scents get weaker until it's a real world situation. Just like teaching your dog to become house-trained, it takes lots of patience, many small steps and a lot of praise.Whether you're training your dog out in the backyard or for an important task, use your

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