WWF-Russia and TRAFFIC congratulates Russian Far East Customs Dogs Service on its birthday!
The goal of the meeting held on June 29 in the RFE Operative Customs was to discuss the results of two years work of the customs dogs service and its collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and nature protection organizations.
The customs dogs service created in June 2008 has considerable successes in the number os various customs seizures especially those connected with wildlife – bear gall gladder, saiga horns, musk deer pods, wild ginseng and other species listed in CITES. At present there are 76 dogs operating in the service, 26 of which were additionally trained to identify wildlife in the Regional Dogs Training Center of Interior Service in Primorsky province. The biggest number of wildlife seized by dogs happened in Khasanskaya, Vladivostokskaya and Blagoveschenskaya customs.
«A seizure of a musk deer pod in Khasanskaya customs by a working dog Greta this spring may serve an example of successful dog’s work. While doing a regular customs check she showed a special interest not to the bags but to the legs of the North Korean citizen. A suspicious person was asked to go through a thorough personal check. As a result a parcel was found in his left boot under the inner sole. Knowing that musk pods were prohibited for export without license in Russia, a North Korean citizen wrapped the derivatives in paper, sprinkled it with gasoline, put it in a plastic bag and then in a condom. However these ruses were helpless in comparison with dog’s nose”, -comments Natalia Pervushina, TRAFFIC Europe program coordinator on the RFE.
Collaboration of WWF-Russia and TRAFFIC program with customs dogs service started from the very creation of a customs dogs service. It was evident that one of the main service areas of work in the RFE should become finding not only narcotics but also wildlife. Russian Far East rich in its biodiversity is also one of the problematic regions with regard to illegal wildlife trade and contraband to the Asia Pacific countries. It is very gratifying to see that this problem is understood not only by nature protection organizations but also by law enforcement service.
«In 2004 WWF-Russia and TRAFFIC program initiated the project in Vladivostok International airport on sniffing dogs detecting the wildlife objects. Specially trained giant schnauzer worked successfully on detecting several packages with derivatives, - reminded Pavel Fomenko, WWF biodiversity program coordinator, - The project was not systemic, held only in the airport, but this was a test of strengths and opportunities. Today WWF and TRAFFIC program work actively with the newly created sniffing dogs service in the Far Eastern Operative customs on dogs training to detect RFE wildlife, a collaborative and officers’ training plan is being worked out ”.