A dog being used for security reasons in a passenger bus heading toward Bharatpur from Madi. Photo: Republica
CHITWAN, Jan 27: It has been three years since four dogs are being deployed at the Chitwan National Park (CNP) for security reasons. There are two species of Belgium Shepherd and two Labrador retrievers. While the Belgium shepherds are being kept for ‘tracking’, Labradors are for ‘sniffing’ purposes.
According to Gopal Bahadur Ghimire, information officer as well as Assistant Conservation Officer at CNP, these dogs are mobilized in areas with suspicious activities that need special security. They are kept at the entry gates for security checking. CNP has been bearing the food and other expenses of these dogs.
Meanwhile, Nepal Army has been entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the dogs and providing them the required training. Though these dogs have not helped catch any poaching groups, they have surely helped tighten the security, according to Ghimire. “We have not been able to catch hunters or poachers with the help of these dogs so far but hunting and poaching has decreased since we deployed these dogs at the park,” he said.
The dogs are also used for checking vehicles entering the park. “Poachers don’t dare to hunt or steal ivories due to the fear of being followed by the dogs,” said Ghimire.
Belgium Shepherds were trained in India prior to their deployment in the park.
Lieutenant Colonel Samundra Thapa, chief of the Batuk Battalion of Nepal Army that has been ensuring security at the national park informed Republica that two trained Labradors were handed over to the park by Nepal Army. He further added that the dogs are also being used for investigations.
Dogs are mobilized in areas where the forest officials suspect poachers might have hidden ivories. They are also involved in identifying people involved in hunting and poaching. “They are used almost regularly,” said Thapa, adding, “We also take them along during our patrolling.”
Through their strong smelling sense, Labradors can find out hidden ivories. They inform the authorities about the findings by barking. However, Belgium Shepherds are used for tracking information of those involved in illegal activities inside CNP.
These dogs are provided with refresher training every month. “Currently, we have been focusing on training which helps these dogs identify ivories to find out about rhinos or tigers,” said Thapa. Forest officials as well as security forces agree that the decision to deploy dogs at CNP was a right decision. Nepal army officers at the park believe these dogs have increased their access to many places.
CNP is the first national park in the country to use dogs for security.