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A year-old German Shepherd named Rani has been appointed as a guard dog for the Forest Department at West Bengal’s Jaldapara National Park. She has received training for almost 8 months to track poachers by the her handlers and is prepapred to sniff out culprits by tracking animal skin, bones and horns.
Jaldapara National Park has been in the news for the death of 11 rhinos and 8 elephants in the past 11 months alone. The Divisional Forest Officer told The Indian Express that this is the first time that a “specially trained dog squad” has been engaged by the forest department. The handlers for Rani – Biplab Kumar Roy and Vanu Rava – have also undergone training for the past eight months with her for tracking.
Apart from tracking poachers within the Jaldapara National Park, the adjacent Buxa Tiger Reserve will also benefit from Rani’s new position.
There has not been a single tiger sighting in the reserve for over two years.
Rani and her handlers received training at the Tekanpur BSF Dog Training Centre in Gwalior, one of India’s finest training centres of its kind.
“The training of the dog starts at the age of six to nine months. Dogs and their handlers are imparted training in disciplines as specified and demanded by their respective departments,” said an official from the Centre.
“The training of the dog and the handler is conjunctive in nature and no leave of any kind is allowed during the course of training. Only midterm break of 5-7 days (depending on course duration) is permitted once during the course. At the end of the course the dog and the handler have to qualify in the written and practical test in order to be certified as a trained dog and handler.
The training period can be extended (minimum 12 weeks) if the performance of the dog and/or handler is not found satisfactory at any stage during the course.”
Given that the terrain of the north Bengal reserve can be tricky, Rani has also received training to sit on an elephant, accompanied by her handlers, and follow the scent. This will not only help in tracking poachers who hide their stash in remote or inaccessible portions of the forest, but also ensure that poachers can be followed quickly and more efficiently from the elephant’s back.
The forest is believed to be used as a path to smuggle illegal wildlife items across to Bhutan among other countries.
Rani will be joining the legacy of Shobha, shown above, the celebrated police sniffer dog and Rana, the famous wildlife sniffer dog of Maharashtra among many other canine friends who have been helping maintaining law and order in the land. Caesar, the last of the sniffer dogs who helped save lives during the Mumbai attacks, died earlier this month and was buried with full honours.