A five-month-old German Shepherd 'Ilu' is undergoing training at Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force's (ITBP) National Training Centre for Dogs. She and five other dogs will be part of 'Super Sniffer' squad in Madhya Pradesh charged with protecting the recently released Namibian cheetahs from poachers.
According to a report in ANI, the dogs will join the pack after a basic training for three months and an advance training for four months which will will help instill qualities like obedience, sniffing and tracking skills. The canines will get deployed on the job from April next year.
During the training, the dogs will be trained to detect tiger and leopard skins, bones, elephant tusks and other body parts, bear bile, Red Sanders, and several other illegal wildlife products.
Super sniffer squads trained at this camp have been deployed in national parks in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
"Dogs develop an unbreakable bond with their handlers that makes them excellent in their job," said Sanjeev Sharma, handler of Ilu, who is currently employed with the forest department at Kuno National Park. He added that Illu is like a child to him. She was just two months old when he picked her here for training.
As per the norms, dogs stay with the same handler from day one till their day of retirement.
"Ilu is not supposed to protect cheetahs because they can protect themselves, she will be deployed on the periphery of the national park along with forest guards to protect cheetahs and other animals from poachers," said Sharma.
The dogs are being trained in collaboration with TRAFFIC (a wildlife trade monitoring network) and WWF-India (World Wide Fund for Nature India).
Ishwar Singh Duhan, Inspector General of Basic Training Center of Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (BTC-ITBP) in Panchkula said, "Dogs trained at ITBP dog training centre have a high rate of wildlife crime detection. There are scores of success stories where dogs have helped in the arrest of poachers and recoveries of wildlife species and their remains."
(With inputs from ANI)Read more: India's Cheetah Reintroduction Project: Some facts about the world's fastest mammal