Kolkata: The coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to its knees, but it seems, it has not daunted poachers. Poaching has shot up to 151 per cent during the lockdown, experts have said. In this grim scenario, West Bengal’s forest department is not taking any chances and has just recruited two especially trained experts to crack down on poachers.
They are no ordinary recruits, but are four-legged experts.
Orlando and Shyana – a Belgian Malinois and a German shepherd – flew to Kolkata on Saturday after nine months of intense training at a BSF-run school in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior and will soon be joining the Bengal forest service to sniff out poachers. The dogs are off to join their assigned posts – one in the Sunderbans in south Bengal, another at the Gorumara forest reserve in the northern part of the state.
They have two trainers each, who have also spent 9 months at the Gwalior school, training with them.
Two more dogs will graduate from the school on June 30, bringing up the state’s dog squad strength to nine.
These dogs are trained to sniff out poachers hiding in the forests and tracking them down to their homes.
Bengal had set up its dog squad in 2017 with four canines. One more joined the squad in 2018. All of them have contributed hugely to keep animals safe in the forests.
Last year, four people who had poached a rhino at Gorumara national park in northern Bengal were tracked down and arrested. Earlier, the dog squad had helped in tracking down ivory smuggled into north Bengal from Assam.