Sunday, 9 April 2017

Dogs for wildlife conservation - CK9

Meet with the CK9 dogs

We, I and Adarsh dai, had a chance to shortly meet Jennifer Hartman and Suzie Marlow from CK9 group, while they were on their way to airport travelling to their next work site after 2 months of work in Nepal’s challenging terrains. A short intro about this group, Conservation Canines (CK9) is a part of Center for Conservation Biology, University of Washington. And they deal with scat detection dogs or sniffer dogs trained to find scats of wild animals in the wild. After finding scats of wild animals, biologist/ecologist/geneticist can study more in detail about the species through DNA extracted off these scats. These dogs are highly trained for the work that they do, such as going out in the wild in completely new and challenging terrains of every sorts all over the world whenever an elusive species need to be studied. And what’s more interesting about them is that these dogs are not any specific pedigree breed dogs, they are all mixed or abandoned strays picked up from shelters in US.

Having been following their facebook page (link) for nearly 4-5 years now when I was studying in Finland, I really liked the kind of work they have been doing for over the past 10 years in the field of wildlife conservation as well as animal welfare. It struck me immediately when I saw their facebook post (about 2 months back in Feb) that two of their team dog members, CK9 Athena and CK9 Skye, are in Nepal for pangolin work. But never had I imagined that I would get to meet them in person on the last day last moment of their work in Nepal, while they were leaving for their flight. Thanks to these wonderful and dedicated people from the Conservation Canines, who are also the dog handlers of these two sniffer dogs. Pangolins are one of the world’s most trafficked wildlife and are in the verge of extinction. And scientists from UW are going to try tracking illegal trade of pangolins by use of molecular genetics tools. They have pioneered similar work in tracking the origin of illegally traded ivory through use of genetics and helped identify two main elephant poaching hotspots (more info). Definitely this is not our last meet, we will meet in the coming days for more works on pangolins. And I am equally excited about their passion of training local dogs in Nepal for similar works in the future. Putting the nose of dogs for such work will not only aid wildlife conservation, but also helps provide a stray or abandoned yet equally capable dog a very healthy, exciting and meaningful life. And no any wildlife or dogs are hurt during the work, which makes this whole process a noninvasive.


CK9 Athena and Skye, with their handlers Jennifer and Suzie.

The CK9 team with Adarsh dai.

Photo sources: Adarsh Man Sherchan.

More links about CK9 and their work:


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