Dogs Are Being Trained To Be The 'Protectors' Of Cheetahs In India

Recently, India reintroduced eight cheetahs to Kuno National Park. The big cats were declared extinct in India in 1952. Now, a squad of 'super sniffer' dogs will safeguard the cheetahs, who were recently airlifted from Namibia, from poachers.

Cover image via Denis Farrell/AP via CNN & @ANI (Twitter)

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Recently, India reintroduced eight cheetahs to its Kuno National Park. The big cats were declared extinct in the country in 1952.

The eight wild cheetahs — five of which are female — were airlifted from Namibia.

They were first transported by road from a game park north of the Namibian capital of Windhoek and then boarded a chartered Boeing 747 dubbed "Cat plane" for an 11-hour flight, according to The Guardian.

The "Cat plane" landed in Gwalior, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. From there, the cheetahs were transported via a helicopter to the grasslands of Kuno National Park.

The arrival of the cheetahs in India marks a significant development for wildlife and tourism in the country after the majestic animals were driven to extinction seven decades ago.

"A long wait is over," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on his official Twitter account on 17 September. He also shared photos of the big cats in their new environment.

Now, a squad of 'super sniffer' dogs will safeguard the cheetahs

While the cheetahs are fitted with satellite collars for their movements to be tracked by a dedicated team that ensures their safety, the Indian government is taking extra measures to protect them from poachers.

On that front, a group of six German Shepherds are being trained at the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force's (ITBP) National Training Centre for Dogs in Panchkula to be deployed to the Kuno National Park.

Leading the group of dogs is a five-month-old German Shepherd named 'Ilu', who will be deployed to the national park after seven months of training in April next year, reported The Economic Times.

The dogs are being trained to detect tiger and leopard skins, bones, elephant tusks, red sanders, and several other illegal wildlife products

According to Ishwar Singh Duhan, Inspector General of Basic Training Center of Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (BTC-ITBP) in Panchkula, they are providing specialised training to the dogs.

"The dogs will be trained to detect tiger skin and bones during the specialised training course. These dogs are being trained by us in collaboration with TRAFFIC (a wildlife trade monitoring network) and World Wide Fund for Nature India (WWF-India)," Ishwar was quoted as saying by Asian News International (ANI).

"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 added.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev Sharma, handler of Ilu, who is currently employed with the forest department at Kuno National Park, said that Ilu is not supposed to protect the 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," he said, adding that Ilu is like a child to him.

In July this year, a female Malayan tiger and her four cubs in tow were captured on camera traps in the wild in Perak:

Malayan tigers have been listed as "critically endangered" since 2015: