It has been a while since the last time we wrote on our blog, but we did not sit still. In the mean time we were busy organising the projects for this working season and putting the dogs back into training after they had some time off during the hot summer months.
In 2,5 weeks we will be going to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia with one of our conservation detection dogs to search for snares. Snaring is major problem in a lot of wildlife areas in Africa and because the method is very non-selective it leaves a huge print on animal populations. Most of the snares are being put out on the boundaries between wildlife reserves and community areas. Snares are typically places around waterholes and in riverine vegetation. The main reason for snaring is meat and the poachers are interested in game species. However, other animals that happen to go and drink at a waterhole also become victim and get trapped in snares, where a lot of them suffer a horrible death. With the amount of snares picked up by anti-poaching patrols in certain areas, this could have a large effect on certain animal species. Think about animals like Wild Dogs, who are Endangered, these animals are also getting caught in snares and this will have a definite impact on their population numbers and survival.
We will be surveying South Luangwa National Park for 4 weeks, where we will be working together with The South Luangwa Conservation Society, The Zambian Carnivore Programme and Working Dogs for Conservation. Working Dogs for Conservation will bring two of their conservation detection dogs to Zambia, so we can increase the area surveyed and remove as many snares as we can.
At the moment, we are training both Gala and Faust on the detection of snares and so far they are doing a great job. The scent picture of snares is complicated, because the snares are made of different kinds of wire and the wire is being handled by different people. When the wire is being handled it reacts with the eccrine sweat glands on the poachers' hands. This is what the dogs smell and what they will look for. It is a challenging project, but are very confident in our dogs and are convinced that they again will do an outstanding job in Zambia to combat the fight against poaching!