Springer spaniel, Indy, bushmeat detection dog in training, meets a lioness

Springer spaniel, Indy, is being trained to detect bushmeat
Springer spaniel, Indy, is being trained to detect bushmeat

Springer spaniel, Indy, is being trained to detect bushmeat. She meets a lioness at Safari Zoo in Cumbria, UK. Photo: SWNS

Indy is being trained to detect bushmeat which is informally slaughtered wild animals eaten by people. It’s a major cause of wildlife loss in Africa including primates, incidentally. Indy is a 14-week-old springer spaniel and she is in the early stages of her training to be the first bushmeat detection dog for Dogs4wildlife, an organisation based in the UK and therefore they ship the dogs out to Africa when they are trained.

She expects to finish training when she’s about 18-months-old. In the photograph you see her at Safari Zoo, Cumbria, UK, getting used to the smell and appearance of the kind of animals that she would have to interact with in her duties. Although I don’t expect to meet a lioness face-to-face in the wild! She should be assigned to the Zambezi Elephant Fund at a busy checkpoint on one of the reserves in Africa.

Dogs4wildlife provide highly trained dogs for anti-poaching canine units to protect wildlife. They currently have nine dogs operating in different wildlife reserves and parks across four African countries.

Bushmeat

This is a bit about bushmeat. It is the flesh of wild animals hunted by people to be eaten by those people or sold. It is often smoked to preserve it and sold as a product by the inhabitants of tropical forest regions in Africa, Asia and South America.

Large numbers of animals are killed for bushmeat and it affects those animals’ survivability. It is thought that the numbers are unsustainable in West and Central Africa. It is a threat to biodiversity and might cause the extinction of some animals. The informality of their slaughter is a potential source of transmission of major diseases from animals to people (zoonotic diseases). There are fears that a second pandemic may start in Africa.

Another phrase for bushmeat is “wild meat”. There is pressure on countries to curtail it in the interests of conservation through enforced legislation. Poor people sometimes rely on it for dietary protein. Worldwide, more than 1,000 species are affected by bushmeat. Bushmeat hunters prefer to kill large species simply because there’s more meat on them.

In West and Central Africa it is estimated that 1 to 5 million tonnes of bush meat are harvested per year as at the turn of the 21st century.