Wildlife Detector Dog Programs Sparks International Interest
More than 50 participants met earlier this week in Budapest to share experiences on the use of wildlife detector dogs in tackling wildlife crime.
The participants came from 20 countries, mainly from within Europe, but also including Nepal and Kenya. They included representatives from international organizations such as INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO).
Countries currently operating wildlife detector dog programs who were present at the meeting included Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands and the UK.
Detector dogs prove to be a highly effective deterrent and weapon in the fight against trafficking of wildlife in a number of countries, with WWF and TRAFFIC-supported dog programs operating in countries including Germany, India and Russia.
The meeting included a practical session where training of a Hungarian wildlife detector dogs was demonstrated. Once trained, the dogs are used to detect wildlife trafficking, mainly at air- and sea-ports and postal mail centers.
Participants emphasized how the use of such animals can raise public awareness about wildlife trade regulations, and help raise the profile of wildlife trafficking as a serious crime.
On the day the meeting opened, Belgium Customs announced a significant seizure of 113 Johnston’s Chameleons Chameleon johnstoni, found concealed inside a legal shipment of more than 100 venomous snakes imported from Burundi and destined for the Czech Republic.
The case was representative of the illegal trafficking of live reptiles into Europe, although many other wildlife goods are also smuggled into the region including live birds such as raptors and parrots, and wildlife parts, such as elephant ivory or products, such as caviar and reptile skin.