Guwahati, August 15: As our nation celebrates its 76th Independence Day on Monday (August 15) citizens all over celebrated the day in a festive manner. People were commemorating the martyrs who made the extreme sacrifice during the Independence movement and continue to inspire us gives us work for building a strong nation.
On Independence Day, every year, a number of dignitaries receive recognition in different arenas for their contributions to the nation.
Aaranyak (www.aaranyak.org), one of India's leading biodiversity conservation organisations, on I-Day choose to felicitate an unusual hero who has made no less contribution towards protecting nature and sustaining life on it. The NGO felicitated Zorba, the first member of the organisation's prized K9 unit at its headquarter here as part of the celebration of the Independence Day.
Aaranyak’s vice-president Dr Dilip Chetry felicitated this canine hero as the audience stood in respect of Zorba, who has assisted wildlife officials in Assam in tracking down 60 plus poachers over the years.
It was for the first time in the country when this Belgian Malinois dog- Zorba, was deployed for tracking/nabbing criminals involved in poaching of precious one-horned rhinos in Assam. Over a span of the 8-year-long career since 2011 and spreading over various rhino protection areas in Assam – Kaziranga National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Orang National Park -- Zorba was actively engaged in anti-poaching operations.
The CEO of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, a globally acclaimed rhino conservation and wildlife crime expert, spoke about Zorba invaluable contribution towards preventing wildlife crime during the felicitation ceremony.
“The reason why this particular breed was preferred to set up Aaranyak’s K9 squad is because of their extreme prey drive capability. Once they pick up a scent and track and come to a lead, they have the capability of outrunning and bringing the suspect down in case the suspect tries to escape.
“Members of our K9 squad including Zorba have assisted the forest officials with vital clues of poachers’ exit routes after the rhino poaching incidents leading to arrest of culprits by the forest and police officials in different cases.” Dr. Talukdar stated.
Zorba was relieved of its duty in December 2019 and is currently under intensive care.
The K9 dog-squad of Aaranyak comprising six Belgian Melinoise units along with its handlers, has been actively assisting forest and police officials in Kaziranga and Manas National Park as well as other rhino-bearing areas in Assam resulting in arrest of many poachers by law enforcement agencies.
The K9 unit has been running with generous support received from UK-based organisation, the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation since 2011 and NABU-Germany since 2017.