Dogs Ally with Elephants in the Fight Against Illegal Ivory

March 19, 2014

Canines are already using their keen sense of smell to assist in airports, and now conservationists are seeking their talents. Ruth Starkey, WCS technical advisor, explains how man's best friends are helping put an end to the ivory crisis.

Dogs live in an astonishing olfactory world, using their keen noses to detect bombs, drugs, or even the apple you left in your luggage. Canines are ubiquitous in the world's airports, and now conservation practitioners are using their sense of smell to seek out and protect rare turtles, identify individual tigers, find invasive snakes, and sniff out deadly snares.

Our furry friends are also being recruited into the fight to end elephant poaching across Africa by sniffing out concealed ivory.

Between 1980 and 2012, Africa's elephant population dwindled from 1.2 million to about 420,000. My colleagues at Wildlife Conservation Society, Samantha Strindberg and Fiona Maisels, recently reported on a study they led documenting the staggering loss of 65 percent of African forest elephants in the past decade alone. Without swift action, we face the real possibility that elephants will join their cousins, the mammoths and mastodons, in the hall of extinct species.

Read the full article from Ruth Starkey on Policy Innovations >>
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