Dogs in Zambia will soon be sniffing out wildlife poachers

Game Rangers International are a charity working hard protect Zambia’s threatened wildlife. Love Nature is currently making two shows with GRI, focusing on its Elephant Orphanage Project, which is involved in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing orphaned elephants back into the wild. For more information, please visit our Make a Difference page.


Illegal wildlife trafficking is often connected with the trafficking of other products including drugs with criminals using common trafficking routes, tactics, and personnel. Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) sometimes work alongside the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to conduct joint operations involving the DEC dog unit. But one limitation is that the DEC dogs are not yet trained identify or detect wildlife products.

The Wildlife Crime Prevention Project (WCPP) engaged, Invictus K9, specialised conservation dog trainers, to conduct an assessment of the DEC dog unit. The aim of the assessment was to determine if any of DEC’s existing capabilities could be expanded to include detection of specific wildlife products. The assessment was conducted over ten days with Invictus K9 instructors, Jay Crafter and Michael Hensman shadowing the DEC unit as they conducted their daily routines, training and operations.

A good dog unit comprises a heathy balance between the canines, the handlers, effective training techniques and support from management. As such, those aspects of the unit were the focus of the assessment. Assessments of training techniques were assessed by observing the dogs and handlers  training and operating at NAC 2000, ZEGA and FEDEX import and export warehouses; passenger baggage screening at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport; the DEC offices; the Lusaka train station; the Chinyunyu checkpoint (in co-operation with DNPW); the westwood checkpoint (in co-operation with the Zambian Police Service); and the Chirundu border post.

WCPP and Invictus K9 will be providing a full report to DNPW and DEC on the outcome of this assessment.

Thanks to support from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.