Max, Tim, Bubba, Nikita and Dana are the amazing canines that make up the unit. They play a crucial role in detecting and deterring the trade of illegal wildlife products in and around Malawi, helping to protect endangered species such as elephants and rhinos.
And now the dogs and their handlers are now deploying to the lake’s main shipping ports, specifically targeting passenger ships from Likoma Island and Mozambique. The dogs are adjusting well to this new environment on and around boats, and they’re loving the accompanying training exercises in the water with their handlers.
The dogs are trained to use their keen sense of smell to sniff out illegal wildlife products such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales. Together with their handlers they protect iconic species by operating at key trafficking hotspots such as airports, roadblocks, around National Parks – and now on passenger and goods boats.
Since the unit was established in 2018, it has successfully clamped down on illegal wildlife trade in Malawi – particularly through the country’s largest international airport which had previously accounted for the second highest number of ivory seizures worldwide.
When not out on an operation, the dogs follow a carefully planned schedule of training, exercise and enrichment to build bonds with their handlers and hone their detection skills. The unit has helped authorities to seize a number of illegal wildlife products and has been involved in raids leading to the arrests of twelve members of an international trafficking syndicate.
With your support our dogs can continue to act as guardians for some of the world’s most iconic species while making sure Malawi is never again seen as an easy target for traffickers.
The Wildlife Detection Dog Unit is a partnership between the Malawi Police Service, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust and the Department for National Parks and Wildlife. The unit supports the prosecution of wildlife criminals and plays a crucial role in the Government of Malawi’s wider efforts to clamp down on illegal wildlife trade.