Dogs have been patrolling to protect endangered elephants and rhinos in Africa for a long time, but now a new anti-smuggling technique shows great promise in stopping illegal shipments of ivory from going out of the country.
Called Remote Air Sampling for Canine Olfaction (RASCO), the dogs will sniff air samples collected from suspected shipments using the technique.
Samples are taken of the air in containers using filters and then presented to the dogs who can sniff out illegal items within seconds.
According to a spokesperson,
"Before now, we had to open shipments for the dogs to access the containers, but this new technique, we only take air samples from the vent in the shipment and present it to the canine unit, who within few seconds can spot those with illegal items."
The use of this technique in a pilot project at the Mombasa port, which is a notorious route for illegal trafficking of ivory, has helped increase detection rates and made the detection more efficient.
Because of the success of the pilot project, all departure points in the country will soon have the new system.
Around 30,000 elephants are slaughtered every year in Africa to meet the demand for ivory. Because of the large amount of money, organized crime is heavily involved with increasingly more sophisticated methods to harvest and smuggle out the ivory.
It is believed that the new system will be a game changer in the export of illegal ivory.
Dogs’ incredible sense of smell means they can sniff out even the tiniest amount in a 40 foot container.