Dogs Detect Wildlife Trafficking in Central Asia


Since the Kyrgyz Republic’s 2015 agreement with the nongovernmental organization Panthera, the Central Asian country has made huge strides in training detection dogs to combat wildlife trafficking. With the help of Panthera, a global conservation outfit devoted to protecting wild cat species, the country put handlers, trainers and four dogs to work at the border crossing between Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic in 2016.

In April 2017, the team caught its first illegal shipment, seven argali and four ibex heads. While both species are legally hunted by quota in the region, these had been hunted without permits in Tajikistan and were being smuggled across the border.

The man transporting the animal parts — a middleman for a separate hunting outfit — tried unsuccessfully to convince the officials at the border to take a bribe. Instead, border guards arrested him and began an investigation.

With training from Working Dogs for Conservation, a Montana-based nongovernmental organization, the four dogs help locate and distinguish illegally traded snow leopard, argali and ibex parts and products from legal items.

Two of the dogs are deployed at one of the Kyrgyz Republic’s most critical border crossings with Tajikistan. Located in a remote, isolated and brutally cold part of the country, the border is somewhat neglected and has previously allowed many wildlife products and narcotics to slip through.

Source: National Geographic