Conservation Canines, the Latest in Ivory Police

Conservation Canine

Don’t let that sweet face fool you. This pup can sniff out ivory no matter how smugglers try to hide it.

And guess what?

There are more four-legged heroes just like him — eager to put an end to wildlife trafficking.

They’re called “Conservation Canines!”

African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) recently graduated their first class of sniffer dogs and handlers specially trained to detect elephant ivory and rhino horn in Africa’s major airports and seaports!

How it works:

These dogs can sniff out everything from dry ivory carved into jewelry to full tusks to small amounts of ivory dust.

In seconds, a dog’s mannerisms change to alert his handler to rhino horn, for example, hidden in tiny boxes or huge cargo loads.

The trained canines are also detecting everything from pangolin scales to live tortoises.

What they’ve accomplished so far:

The first graduating class of canine detection units has already made 20 finds of illegal wildlife products since the beginning of 2016.

They recently uncovered pangolin scales in the luggage of a traveler going from Nigeria to China.

The visibility of these dogs and handlers in some of Africa’s major trafficking hubs deters criminals because they know they will be caught and punished.

Meet the dogs:

Duco the Ivory DogDUCO

Breed: Malinois.

Birthday: 5/2/13

Duco is a big dog with a big heart. He was meant to be a police dog but AWF was lucky enough to get him to join their team. Dcuo absolutely loves the thrill of the hunt and wags his tail like crazy when he works.




Horta the Ivory Dog HORTA

Breed: Pointer/Viszla


Horta has a goofy, fun personality, but she also works like a machine. Horta truly loves her job and lets you know right away when she’s found contraband. Her best friend is Lenon the German Shepherd.




Diva the Ivory Dog DIVA

Breed: Malinois

Birthday: 8/11/12

This beautiful dog was bred for competitions, but she had such drive that AWF persuaded her owner to let her join the AWF team. Her obedience has made her a powerful asset and she’s learning to have fun searching, too!




Thor the Ivory Dog


Breed: German Short Haired Pointer

Birthday: 1/7/13

Thor loves working so much he starts talking if it isn’t his turn! When he finds some ivory and gets his reward toy, he likes to jump into the stream that runs through the AWF training facility and then hug his trainer.




Rocco the Ivory Dog


Breed: Belgian Malinois

Birthday: 8/8/10

Nicknamed “Roc-star,” Rocco’s strong work ethic and expert nose has inspired his entire team to continue making finds. He has a tough side, but he’s crazy about his reward toy and loves the attention from all of the rangers.




Ram the Ivory Dog RAM

Breed: German Shepherd

Birthday: 10/8/13

Ram is one of their cheerleaders — he’s easy to spot in the morning because he’s the one wagging his tail, excited to get into the field to track down ivory and rhino horn.





Lenon the Ivory Dog


Breed: German Shepherd

Birthday: 1/15/13

Lenon loves to work and is always very focused on the task at hand. He’s also known as a friendly guy around the team and is close with Horta the Pointer.





Asja the Ivory Dog ASJA

Breed: Springer Spaniel

Birthday: 1/15/13

Sweet and energetic, Asja loves nothing more than finding ivory and then launching herself into her handler’s arms. She’s the shortest dog in the class but that doesn’t stop her from jumping into big trucks to search for trafficked items.

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