Guwahati: A three-year-old German Shepherd and her handlers were felicitated on Monday by the Kaziranga National Park authorities on the occasion of International Tiger Day for helping solve a number of wildlife crime cases.
The sniffer dog, named Quarmy, employed under the Biswanath Wildlife Division, also recently won a special prize for her skills.
She bagged the award in a unique contest, titled ‘Canines for Felines’ organised by TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network under World Wide Fund (WWF) and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Winners were chosen based on their impact on tiger-related cases while the special prize was given on the basis of a sniffer dog’s overall contribution towards curbing wildlife crime.
“We are very proud of Quarmy and all our sniffers in Kaziranga. They have proved that conservation of the national park not only depends on humans — sniffer dogs play a major role as well,” said Kaziranga National Park Director P Sivakumar.
Lively, tenacious and intelligent – Quarmy was deployed in Kaziranga’s Northern Range on December 21, 2017. She now has the distinction of being the first in her batch of trained wildlife sniffer dogs to help crack cases of poaching attempts and providing crucial leads to law enforcement agencies.
At present, Kaziranga has four wildlife sniffer dogs. The teams of true-blue forest officers — the handlers and their four-legged colleagues — have taken the lead in nabbing criminals and battling illegal wildlife trade in the state.
She was only 14 months old and barely a week into her deployment, when Quarmy was made to assist a team of forest officials on a search operation in December 2017. The operation was led by Range Officer Pranjal Baruah of the Northern Range to the interiors of Panpur Reserve Forest that forms the 6th Addition to Kaziranga.
The team had information about poachers trying to target a rhino in the area. Quarmy and her two handlers, Lakhi Nandan Baruah and Johnson Teron, set out on their first mission. A suspect, Gyan Das, was not present when the dog squad reached his house.
After trailing him for almost two hours, Quarmy took her team to a pond. The dog pointed to her handler about something inside waist-deep water. A search was initiated and within few minutes, a .303 rifle and a silencer were recovered from the bottom of the pond.
The next day, Das was arrested from Simaluguri village of Biswanath district. Quarmy easily sniffed out the suspect during identification.
This was Quarmy’s first field operation after an intensive eight months’ training at the National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) in Tekanpur, Gwalior, run by the Border Security Forces.
In yet another success story on March 7, 2019, Quarmy and her team led a raid with the help of Biswanath police in the Gohpur area and recovered a gold biscuit and a stolen cylinder from the house of the accused.
Quarmy with her team that recovered a gold biscuit and a stolen cylinder from the house of the accused.
She was one of the 13 dogs trained under the wildlife sniffer dog training programme at Gwalior in 2017, and she passed with a ‘Bravo’ grade. She was only six months old when Lakhi, a casual employee of the Kaziranga forest division, first met her in April 2016.
“I had never stepped close to a dog before. Initially, I was a bit scared, but Quarmy has changed my life and since I met her, I have not stayed away from her for a single day. We have a very strong bond,” he said.
Quarmy and Lakhi would get up at 4:30 am for their dawn-to-dusk training. The dogs and their handlers were trained and tested on their agility, speed, tracking and search abilities.
“The canines are especially trained to fight poachers. They are also trained to sniff out even the smallest traces of banned wildlife products such as ivory, leopard and tiger skin and bones, tiger claws and hyena skin. She will also be trained to sniff out rhino horns, because that is what Kaziranga is all about,” said Lakhi Nandan.
TRAFFIC with support from WWF-India launched the wildlife sniffer dog training programme in 2008, and their trained super sniffers have helped solve over 350 wildlife crime cases involving the seizure of wildlife products and derivatives. So far, 66 trained wildlife sniffer dog squads have been deployed in 19 states across India.
Monday’s felicitation programme was attended by the Director of Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, the Divisional Forest Officers of Biswanath, Nagaon and Eastern Assam Wildlife Divisions besides Sub-Divisional Police Officer and Circle Officer of Bokakhat, NGO members from WTI, WWF, Aaranyak and Corbett Tiger Foundation along with eco-development committee members.
Her handlers Lakhmi Nandan Baruah and Johnson Teron were also felicitated at the special programme organized by the Kaziranga Employees’ Union in Kohora today.