In Tanzania, dogs are lending a helping paw 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 2011 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 outside 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 agenda—they can't be compromised," he said. "Our dogs have tracked elephant poachers for up to eight hours at a time or more, through extreme conditions—heat, rain, wetlands, mountains—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 in 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 fun 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?
People frequently talk about dogs tracking or searching by following a trail, but 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 PetPlus
membership to save on buying all your supplies.