K9 Assam canine squad poach Belgian Malinois

Zorba, the first dog on the K-9 team, is credited with helping catch 60 poachers, 50 of them in Kaziranga National Park, world famous for its one-horned rhinos.

K9 Dog Squad. File photo: Aaranyak

A team of trained dogs helps track poachers in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Assam and also assists forest security personnel in their conservation efforts.

This team of trained dogs is dubbed the first of its kind in India. The country’s first wildlife crime dog team was established in Assam at the initiative of the biodiversity organization Aaranyak in 2011 with a Belgian Malinois named Zorba.

The same Belgian Malinois dog named Cairo helped the US Navy SEAL team track down and kill terrorist Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011.

K-9 Dog Squad

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The canine team, called the K9 unit, includes Belgian Malinois dogs and their handlers, who have been active in assisting forest and police officials in Kaziranga and Manas National Park, as well as other breeding areas. of rhinos in Assam, which led to the arrest of many poachers by law enforcement, according to Aaranyak.

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“The reason this particular breed is preferred is because of their extreme ability to drive prey. They are even capable of assisting in the arrest of suspects if the situation calls for it. Once they have detected a scent, followed and come to a lead, they have the ability to outrun and knock down the suspect in case the suspect attempts to escape. This team of sniffer dogs has helped forestry officials find vital clues on poachers’ escape route after rhino poaching incidents that led to the arrest of the culprits by forestry officials and police in different cases,” said said the organization.

‘Very effective’

The “K9 unit” has over the years become a “very efficient and well-trained unit” in tracking down wildlife crime, said Bibhab Talukdar, Aaranyak’s general secretary.

The team was created in 2011 with only one Belgian Malinois and now has seven dogs with more than one handler for each of them. Two more dogs are undergoing training in Guwahati, Talukdar said PTI.

Zorba’s feat

Zorba, the team’s lead dog, is credited with helping catch 60 poachers, 50 of them in Kaziranga National Park, world famous for its one-horned rhinos. The dog had served primarily in the KNP from 2012 until his retirement from service in 2019. On Independence Day that year, he was honored with a traditional ‘gamosa’ and a citation.

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It has also been deployed on various occasions to other national parks. One incident of his expertise in tracking poachers stands out in Orang National Park in the state.

He had then given vital clues from the crime scene leading to the identification of the suspect’s house outside the park. Later, the accused was arrested by forest officers and police, Talukdar said.

Sole Zorba wielder Anil Das said he was enjoying a retired life at K9 camp in Guwahati with no duty in harsh field conditions and better health care.

Zorba’s successors

Now it’s the turn of his successors – Leon, Jubi and Emy to stand guard in the various ranges of Kaziranga. Then there’s Misky in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Sheela in Raimona, and Veera in Orang National Park.

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Transforming the unit into an effective and dedicated force took nearly a decade of adopting innovative techniques and approaches learned from numerous training sessions under the watchful eyes of internationally renowned trainers, Talukdar said.

“Members of our K9 team, including Zorba, have assisted forest officials with vital clues to poachers’ escape routes after rhino poaching incidents, leading to the arrest of culprits by forest and forest officials. the police in different cases,” he said.

The K9 unit operates with the generous support of a UK-based organization, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation since 2011 and NABU-Germany since 2017.

About the Belgian Malinois Breed

The Belgian Malinois, also known as the Belgian Shepherd, is the predominant breed used by US Navy SEAL teams. This breed has been successfully used as a military dog ​​by European forces and has also shown exemplary performance in detecting explosives and drugs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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According to the U.S. Navy SEALS Museum, Belgian Malinois dogs, also known as Mals in the United States, are “favored for their intelligence, agility, loyalty, and stealth.”

“Belgian Malinois are fierce and quick with keen vision. Lighter and leaner than the German Shepherd traditionally employed as a police working dog, the Belgian Malinois sports a compact frame, which is advantageous when tandem skydiving or abseiling, an intrinsic part of many SEAL assignments. Their exceptional sense of smell makes these dogs an optimal breed for detecting improvised explosive devices (IEDs),” he said.

The Belgian Malinois, a breed of herding and working dog, was developed in the Mechelen region of Belgium in the 1800s. The Belgian Malinois is a sturdy, well-muscled dog with almost boxy proportions. It stands about 22 to 26 inches (56 to 66 cm) tall at the withers and weighs 40 to 80 pounds (18.1 to 36.2 kg). It has a thick coat about 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) long, varying in color from yellowish-brown to mahogany with black-tipped hairs; the breed typically has a black mask and ears, said British.

The Belgian Malinois breed was the subject of the Hollywood film Dog, released in February this year.

(With contributions from the Agency)

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