In Benin, we’re training detection dogs to help us disrupt trafficking networks.
Throughout West Africa, poachers kill rhinos, pangolins, turtles, elephants and other animals. They mutilate them for their parts, and then smuggle them by ship or plane to markets in Asia and Europe.
Detection dogs—like the ones you see at the airport—can sniff out shipments of animal parts in the same way that canine units can sniff out narcotics. The Beninese goverment wanted to use these dogs. But there were no established programs or best practices for training them in West Africa.
We developed a wildlife crime detection training program for canine units in the city of Cotonou.
The program trains dogs—some of whom come from French shelters and local communities—to detect animal parts like ivory and pangolin scales. It also prepares their handlers, who may not have had any previous experience working with a canine unit.
Once trained, units deploy to strategic locations like ports, airports, border crossings, and the boundaries of protected wildlife habitats.
Eight canine units have been trained through our program.
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