Belgian Malinois dogs which guard the White House and formed part of the SEAL team that eliminated Osama bin Laden, will now be used for wildlife protection and anti-poaching operations in Kanha and Pench tiger reserves in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh (MP).
MP lost 30 tigers in 2016, the highest in the country, with Pench and Kanha alone accounting for over 20 deaths. The trend of using tiger body parts in tantric rituals has picked up in and around Pench and Kanha, leading to a surge in tiger deaths.
After training three batches of sniffer dogs since 2008, the Police Dog Training Centre of the 23rd Battalion of Special Armed Forces in the outskirts of Bhopal (MP’s capital) is now training four Belgian Malinois dogs these days to sniff out skins and bones of tigers and leopards and track poachers and hunters. These dogs are known for their keen sense of smell, stamina for long chases and aggression.
The nine-month training of Malinois dogs will end in April-end following which they will be deployed in Kanha and Pench and other protected areas, which will be decided soon. The dog costs Rs 82,000 and around Rs 67,000 is spent on its training.
State wildlife department is upbeat about the proposed deployment of the elite dog force in and around Pench and Kanha tiger reserves.
RP Singh, additional principal chief conservator of Forests (APCCF wildlife) said that currently the department has eight sniffer dogs deployed at Itarsi, Sagar, Jabalpur, Indore and Seoni.
“But now with the addition of four Malinois dogs, for the first time we will deploy them inside the tiger reserves at Kanha and Pench or in the tiger corridors. We will make efforts to have more Belgian Malinois dogs to cover all tiger reserves and vulnerable areas in the state,” he said.
Manglendra Singh Prasad, dog trainer, who is training these dogs at the training centre here, told Hindustan Times that it is a much better breed than the German Shepherd.“Malinois is a very disciplined, focused and friendly dog. Its energy levels are unparalleled among all the dog breeds I have worked with so far. It is the dog of this breed that was recommended for gallantry award last year for detecting fidayeen presence in Pathankot airbase attack. Once you introduce it to a scent of poachers or accused at a place in the forest or any other location, it has a good success rate in tracking them”.
Prasad said their Centre is the premier dog training institute in the country which has so far trained over 50% country’s 40 plus sniffer dogs trained in wildlife protection. (Hindustan Times)