Two UK Search dog companies join forces to help conservation of protected species
Pangolin, the world’s most illegally traded mammal, it is believed that sales now account for up to 20 per cent of the entire wildlife black market. Trade ends up in China and Vietnam where the pangolin meat is considered a delicacy and the scales believed to hold a vast array of medicinal properties. Despite the huge demand on the on the only mammal in the world to be covered in scales very little is known about the biology of this elusive creature.
Ecology Dogs were approached by pangolin specialist Louise Fletcher who, along with Wildlife Reserves Singapore and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, has been raising money to fund a ground breaking project to help conservationists learn more about the species to ultimately develop a method to successful surveying and monitoring of pangolin across South East Asia and beyond. It is hoped that by developing this method and knowing where populations are it will in turn give added protection from illegal poachers and in time reduce the numbers of pangolin being exploited from the wild.
Search dogs are widely used in detecting pangolin scales at customs level but never has a search dog been trained and used to detect a presence of pangolin in its natural habitat. The dog will use pangolin scat as a target odour and will be searching vast areas of jungle vegetation working alongside conservationists from Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Louise approached Ali from Ecology Dogs because of her experience of using dogs to survey and monitor for UK protected species alongside being a trained ecologist. Louise aims to set up a team of conservationists in Singapore using dogs to detect pangolin scat in the wild. Within this, handlers will need to be trained to work the search dogs effectively.
Ecology Dogs approached Mark Doggett of Enviro-Dogs who is also an Instructor with Medical Detection Dogs, Marks experience of scent work training brings a dynamic element to the team. Ecology Dogs and Enviro-Dogs have teamed up to work on this exciting project which is due to commence in 2017, we look forward to following the team and their work on this project.