A five-month-old German Shepherd 'Ilu' is under training at Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force's (ITBP) National Training Centre for Dogs to join the 'Supper Sniffer' squad in Madhya Pradesh.
Ilu will soon be deployed in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno National Park to protect the recently released Namibian cheetahs from poachers.
She is among the six dogs that are being trained to protect the wildlife at various national parks of the country.
After the completion of the basic training for three months and an advance training for four months will help instil qualities like obedience, sniffing and tracking skills. The canines will get deployed on the job from April next year.
During the training, the dogs will be trained to detect tiger and leopard skins, bones, elephant tusks and other body parts, bear bile, Red Sanders, and several other illegal wildlife products.
Super sniffer squads trained at this camp have been deployed in national parks in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
"Dogs develop an unbreakable bond with their handlers that makes them excellent in their job," said Sanjeev Sharma, handler of Ilu, who is currently employed with the forest department at Kuno National Park.
Sharma further said that Illu is like a child to him. She was just two months old when he picked her here for training.
As per the norms, dogs stay with the same handler from day one till their day of retirement.
"Ilu is not supposed to protect cheetahs because they can protect themselves, she will be deployed on the periphery of the national park along with forest guards to protect cheetahs and other animals from poachers," said Sanjeev.
Ishwar Singh Duhan, Inspector General of Basic Training Center of Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (BTC-ITBP) in Panchkula said that they are providing specialized training to the dogs that are to be deployed at Kuno National Park.
"The dogs will be trained to detect tiger skin and bones during the specialized training course. These dogs are being trained by us in collaboration with TRAFFIC (a wildlife trade monitoring network) and WWF-India (World Wide Fund for Nature India)," he said.
"Dogs trained at ITBP dog training centre have a high rate of wildlife crime detection. There are scores of success stories where dogs have helped in the arrest of poachers and recoveries of wildlife species and their remains," he said.
He further added that Railway Protection Force (RPF) has deployed wildlife sniffer dog squads for the first time in India and it has helped them to detect the smuggling of contraband and rare species of wildlife through the railway network.
Combating wildlife trafficking, TRAFFIC and WWF-India launched the country's first wildlife sniffer dog training programme in 2008. Under the programme, many dogs have been trained and deployed at wildlife parks.