Conservation Efforts in Chitwan National Park

In an ongoing battle to protect the wildlife of Nepal, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) plans to train four German shepherds as part of the Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy. Starting as puppies, the dogs will be trained over a period of twelve months before being sent into the Chitwan National Park with the rangers, soldiers and conservationists who are fighting a daily battle to keep poachers from killing animals in the protected area. This initiative is the latest development in conservation efforts that are having some measurable success, as on World Wildlife Day (March 3) it was reported that during 2013 no rhinos, elephants or tigers were killed in Nepal. In 2012 a single rhino was poached, but 2011 was also a zero-kill year.

In addition to the policing of wildlife reserves, Nepal has been working with local communities to enlist their aid as guardians of their surroundings, in return for which the government of Nepal pays them a percentage of tourism income. This incentivizes communities to be vigilant in the protection of animals that are, in effect, a source of income for them. The collaboration of park agencies with national and international law enforcement officials has enabled Nepal to identify and arrest criminals trading in protected species.

Although the rangers in Chitwan Park are highly trained and extremely dedicated, they are fighting a constant battle against poachers who are motivated by greed and are supplying a market that appears to have an insatiable appetite for ivory, rhino horn and parts of tigers believed to have special properties. To meet this demand, crime syndicates use whatever means they can to gain access to these animals. Sniffer dogs are already used successfully in crime prevention in many parts of the world and it is anticipated that well-trained sniffer dogs will help the Chitwan rangers find and stop poachers before they have the opportunity to kill, rather than chasing down poachers after the damage has been done.

If the WWF is able to raise sufficient funds, which they are doing through crowdsourcing, they will be able to acquire the German shepherd puppies from a breeder in Slovakia who provides specialized working dogs to international law enforcement agencies. The puppies will be trained in Nepal, learning to track animals, detect hidden wildlife products, find crime scenes, avoid traps and pursue poachers. To find out more about this exciting project visit the Earth Hour Puppy Protectors website.