Belgian Malinois breed sniffer dog joins forest dept's patrolling team at Pench tiger reserve

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Nagpur, Jun 8 (PTI) Bela, a 9-month-old Belgian Malinois breed sniffer dog, has joined the Pench Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra to assist the forest department's patrolling team in anti-snare and anti-electrocution operations.

Deputy Director of Pench, Maharashtra, Prabhu Nath Shukla, announced in a press release that after six months of training, the sniffer dog, along with two handlers, has joined the Rapid Rescue Team (RRT) of Pench.

Training was imparted at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Basic Training Centre at Panchkula. Bela was part of a group of 12 other dogs trained for similar duties in various protected areas.

Shukla said that the training of the sniffer dogs at the centre consists of three phases.

"In the first phase, dogs are paired with personal handlers to build a strong and trusting bond through strategic exercises. In the second phase, the dogs learn skills related to detecting wildlife crimes, such as identifying illicit products and apprehending poachers. The final phase sharpens their skills in investigating crime scenes," Shukla stated.

The training programme was organised by TRAFFIC and WWF-India.

Bela joins another sniffer dog, Willy (also known as Daisy), a German Shepherd who trained at the 23 Battalion Dog Training Centre in Bhopal from 2019 to 2020.

Five-year-old Willy has been instrumental in finding body parts and other evidence in several poaching and wildlife death cases in the Umred Pauni Karhandla (UPK) Wildlife Sanctuary and Pench. Willy was recognised by TRAFFIC India as 'Super Sniffers On The Prowl' in 2021.

Bela is stationed at the Nagalwadi RRT centre located at Ambazari. Both buffer ranges now have one sniffer dog unit each. Bela and Willy will join the forest department's patrolling team in anti-snare and anti-electrocution drives. PTI CLS NSK

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