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Wildlife agency to expand detection dogs all over Africa

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt  (Xinhua) -- The Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF) plans to supply sniffer dogs to all countries in Africa to help reduce poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products.

Jia Qiao, advocacy officer with AWF, said on Wednesday that the move follows a successful detection role that the dogs have undertaken at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

“We plan to supply the dogs bit by bit to all countries in Africa to help reduce poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products,” Qiao told Xinhua in an interview on the sidelines of the ongoing UN Biodiversity Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Qiao said that AWF recently dispatched a team of dogs to Entebbe International Airport (EIA) to help Uganda stop animal products from passing through the airport.

She revealed that the wildlife agency has earmarked to dispatch the dogs to Mozambique, Tanzania and Botswana while the consignment to Cameroon will be delivered next year.

She said that AWF is working together with wildlife authorities and trains dogs specifically to detect wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales that are often hidden in cargo or travelling bags.

At the JKIA, the dogs have proven to be a deterrent to the would-be traffickers since the canines that are purchased from breeders in Europe are trained to detect hidden contraband.

The AWF team at JKIA has detected 26 products since 2016 including wildlife products such as live tortoise.

Ivory and rhino horns that have been seized at ports in Africa have proven how elephants and rhinos are being killed annually by illegal poachers.

“Unfortunately, Africa lacks capacity and trained personnel to inspect the shipments that are destined to markets abroad,” Qiao noted.

Under the program, AWF trains and deploys detection dogs in airports, sea ports and border crossings to uncover illegal shipments of wildlife products.

The UN Biodiversity Conference 2018 will be held from Nov. 13 to 29 in the Red Sea resort city in Egypt, with the participation of representatives from over 190 states.



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