A canine from one of the most popular dog breeds will protect the world’s fastest mammal that has been recently reintroduced in India.
Five and a half months old, German Shepherd Ilu is being trained by some of the best canine trainers in the country at the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Basic Training Centre in Haryana’s Panchkula.
After completing her eight-month training in anti-poaching and anti-smuggling of wildlife articles, Ilu will be deployed to protect the eight cheetahs, which were brought from Namibia and released at Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh.
Interestingly, Ilu got her name from her handler, Sanjeev Sharma, an employee of Madhya Pradesh’s Forest Department. She is among the batch of six new German Shepherds – Rocky, Bobby, Oscar, Stella, Drona and Ilu – which will be deployed in other national parks in Karnataka and Bihar.
Talking to The New Indian about his choice of Ilu to guard one of India’s prized possessions, Sharma said, “She is a bit flicker by nature but obedient too. I liked her activity. That’s why I selected this dog among the six that were brought for anti-wildlife poaching purposes.”
“The cost of training is being borne by Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC) and WWF-India’s programme. ITBP gives us the centre for training.”
“Mutton, chicken, eggs and milk are their main diet. Their training starts at 5 am. They are trained for eight hours every day,” Sharma said. “For the first three months, they will be imparted with basic training. For the next five months, they will be given advanced training where they will learn the skills of sniffing banned products,” he added.
“The illegal trade in wildlife products and derivatives such as mongoose hair, snake skins, rhino horns, tiger and leopard parts, elephant tusks, Shahtoosh shawls, and pangolin scales is a cause for concern,” Inspector General IS Duhan told The New India.
“The dogs are being trained using the latest training tools to master sniffing and tracking skills for the scent of various wildlife products. Training is being scientifically conducted using modern conditioning techniques, including positive reinforcement through food and play rewards,” Duhan said.